W-S Youth Chorus moves to the Opera House

W-S Youth Chorus moves to the Opera House
May 10
09:27 2018

Piedmont Opera and the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus announced April 30 that the Youth Chorus will merge with the Piedmont Opera as of July 1, 2018.

Darren Chiott and Ashley Rusher, co-chairs of the Board of Directors for the Youth Chorus, said The Youth Chorus Board could not be more excited about the new opportunities this integration brings to its singers.

“Our organizations have been strategically aligned for many years due to the shared vision, mission and goals of the Piedmont Opera and the Youth Chorus. Taking this next step toward merger is the natural progression of our ongoing collaboration,” said Chiott.

Rusher added, “Each of our organizations is recognized as a premier arts and cultural asset in the Winston-Salem community, and we have so much to offer each other. Our integration will ensure that our common mission continues to enhance the artistic and educational opportunities available in our community.”

“This coming together of two of Winston-Salem’s historic and innovative arts institutions offers a rare opportunity,” said James Allbritten, general director of Piedmont Opera. “Our organizations are excited to lead the way in preserving and celebrating our extraordinary histories while creating a future that will create even more exciting possibilities through shared resources.”

Together, Piedmont Opera and the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus share a 65-year legacy of enriching the community through music – 40 and 25 years respectively. The merging of the two historic organizations brings together two institutions that have shared a common mission for over six decades. This shared mission will now become a common foundation to help both organizations reach an expanded audience while both continue to deliver excellence in their areas of expertise.

The merger will dissolve The Winston-Salem Youth Chorus’s 501-C status on June 30, bringing the chorus under the umbrella of Piedmont Opera and conferring onto the opera’s tax-exempt charitable status. The Youth Chorus programming, staff and daily operations will remain unchanged but will be relocated to the Opera House on 636 Holly Avenue.

Also regarding the Piedmont Opera, it will hold its largest fundraiser, the 27th annual Magnolia Ball. This year the honorary chairwoman is Phyllis Dunning. Since Phyllis Dunning retired from teaching English literature and composition 25 years ago, she’s continued to share her passion for the arts and nurture that interest in others as she volunteers at myriad art events in Winston-Salem.

During her 33 years teaching high school in Forsyth County, Dunning says she would “strongly suggest and encourage students to attend concerts and operas and theater and art exhibits,” adding that occasionally she’d entice students with extra credit. Many of her former students have gone on to have successful careers in the arts, including Ben Folds, a 1984 Reynolds grad who’s now a multiplatinum singer, songwriter, and producer and Howell Binkley, the Tony-Award-winning lighting genius behind the Broadway smash “Hamilton.”

If Phyllis Dunning made a difference in your life, the Piedmont Opera needs your help. Email for information on how to be a part of a video project in honor of Phyllis Dunning.

To buy tickets to the ball, go to

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