Linda Hodges, who founded the choral group in 2010, is ready to step down after growing the group to 70 strong.
Linda Hodges recalls the day two singers in her church choir at Trinity Presbyterian Church approached her with the idea of beginning a full choral group.
"I looked at them as though they were crazy; I'd only done church music," said Hodges, who has served as the parish's music director for the last 10 years. "I had no idea what it would entail."
With 25 years of previous experience as a music teacher and director, Hodges began to explore the idea of forming a larger community chorus, eventually accepting the challenge.
Over the last seven years, the Community Chorus of Palm Coast has grown considerably.
"I said if we could get at least 20 to 25 people to show up, we could make it a go. I think 40 or 50 were there for the first rehearsal," Hodges said.
Now, as Hodges prepares to retire at the end of April, the group is nearly 70 members strong.
"To me, Linda is the Community Chorus," said Jane Gaulding, one of the group's singers. "We sure will miss her."
Under Hodges' direction, the chorus has put on two major concert seasons each year and other community events since its inception in 2010, instilling her love of rehearsing and performing with others, including the kind of challenging, intricate harmonies that balance out all the unique voices in the group.
"To get the most out of a chorus, you need to get them to blend," Hodges said, adding, "that's both the joy and the challenge. But I think these members -- many of them original -- have come a long way."
One of Hodges' favorite parts of the job is selecting the musical numbers, especially for some of the themed concerts the group has presented at times like Memorial Day, other holidays, and special shows such as the 9/11 Memorial Concert in 2011, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
The loss of longtime choral collaborator, Carolyn Frisbie, who died in a car accident last year, shook Hodges.
"She was my right-hand person; she did so much for this chorus," Hodges said.
Hodges, who lives in St. Augustine, leaves the chorus with a feeling of bittersweet regret, but knowing it will allow her to spend more time with grandchildren and other pursuits.
While no replacement has been appointed to take over as director, the Community Chorus will go on, of that Hodges is sure.
"Sometimes I think I will miss it and wonder, what did I do?" Hodges said. "But it's time, and I know the group is committed to continuing."
Hodges always gets nervous the last couple of weeks before a show, and this time is no exception.
"But it always comes together in the end," she said with a laugh.
For her last two upcoming concerts, Hodges has selected her favorite songs to present. Calling the program, "Musical Memories…A Director’s Celebration," the shows will be performed on Friday, April 21 and Sunday, April 23. In attendance will be Hodges' son, Mike, a singer with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra who will lend his voice to the chorus at the April 23 show, as well as son, Timothy, a professional singer in New York who will be a guest in the audience. Musical instruments not normally featured in Community Chorus' previous concerts, such as a French horn, oboe and drums, will also add to the fanfare.
"It's going to be upbeat and just really fun," Hodges said.