Since its inception in 1989, The Michael O’Neal Singers (MOS) organization has established itself as one of the finest symphonic choruses in the Southeastern United States. Ranging in experience from dedicated amateur musicians to veteran professionals, MOS is composed of a chorus of over 130 auditioned voices and Kaleidoscope, a chamber ensemble of 32 voices.
We sat down with two vocalists to find out what makes their hearts sing.
Stephanie Adrian has been with OS since 2017. A soprano, she relishes the repertoire that Michael chooses from season to season and the weekly rehearsal process, learning new music and preparing for a concert. A violinist since childhood, she fell in love with opera when she was 11, joined the children’s chorus of Opera Omaha and sang in a production of Puccini's Tosca. “I found the opera singers larger-than-life! Their voices, their costumes, their personalities,” says Stephanie, who moved to Roswell in 2017 in order to send her children to Blessed Trinity and Queen of Angels Catholic School. “I used to watch, mesmerized, from the wings when I wasn’t onstage. I became a violin and voice major in college and have spent the last twenty-five years as a professional classical singer, voice teacher, and arts writer.” She is now a speech-language pathologist and specializes in voice disorders, treating clients of all ages with other communication disorders.
Caring for herself is a priority. “I care for my singing voice by hydrating, exercising, and getting good sleep. On performance days, I spend time warming up my voice for about 15-20 minutes beforehand, singing up and down my range.”
Venturing into 2024, she encourages anyone who loves to sing to join a community chorus or other singing group - no matter your skill level or self-perception about whether or not you’re good enough. “It’s incredibly fulfilling to be with others who love music and want to be part of something greater than themselves. Music makes the world a more beautiful place!”
Allan Kennedy has been a member of Michael O'Neal singers since 1993 and also sings with the MOS chamber group, Kaleidoscope. He grew up in a musical family, sang in a boy's choir and joined the Roswell United Methodist Church where Michael O'Neal was the Director of Worship Arts for more than two decades.
“The opportunity to join with other choral singers is a profound experience, because the sound the chorus produces requires us singers to connect musically and to some degree emotionally as we perform,” says Allan. “That connection is visceral. You can feel it in your bones. When I sing, I am transported to a place emotionally that is transformative.”
Allan feels Dr. O'Neal is skilled at connecting with the chorus in a way that brings out the best in each voice. “I also enjoy the variety of the repertoire that we perform. Michael's national reputation and experience are something all of us benefit from. Michael is a teacher. We sing the classics such as Bach's "B-Minor Mass," but also more contemporary pieces such as Bernstein's "West Side Story" and we even did a soft rockin' concert. We have performed opera pieces, bluegrass, and spirituals.”
Regarding auditions, he commiserates. “I think we are all intimidated by auditions, but I must say that Michael O'Neal works very hard to make the experience non-threatening and enjoyable. When one sings with a group of other choristers that have taken the time and effort to audition, you know that you are with kindred souls.”
I think we are all intimidated by auditions, but I must say that Michael O'Neal works very hard to make the experience non-threatening.