M usic is powerful. It brings us to laughter and tears and into distant memories and places.
New Haven-based singing group SOUND Affect has that sort of outlook about what music can do and how far it can travel. And why shouldn’t they? Their music will soon take them 1,500+ miles to Haiti.
Young performers from the ensemble are taking two trips this June and July, facilitating musical camps for children in both the Central Plateau region and Port au Prince. The sessions will include choral singing, music theory, instrumental instruction and sports, especially baseball—because kids need to get outside and play, too.
“The trip will be packed full of activity and completely exhausting…but overwhelmingly wonderful,” says SOUND Affect Director Carol Taubl.
It’s a big undertaking for the group, which was founded by Taubl in 2011 and is open to all, grade school and up. Members are in high gear planning all the details; a fundraiser in Bethany on April 27 will help raise money for the trip. Tickets for the event, which will feature contra dancing and a silent auction, are available on the group’s website.
While the specifics are still coming together, the underlying purpose behind traveling to Haiti—bringing music and goodwill to those in need—has been a part of SOUND Affect since its inception. Each of the group’s concerts benefits a charity or otherwise helps those in need. As the SA website proclaims: “Every note that is sung should have an impact on a life—the life of the singer and the life of the listener.”
Here in Connecticut, SOUND members have performed and raised money for the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen and Columbus House homeless shelter. They’ve performed for Smilow Cancer Hospital, including caroling their way through its hallways over the holidays. Several singing engagements at retirement homes are lined up for next month.
“We do it for each other and for other people,” says Dawn Williams, a member of SOUND Proof (the name of the teen and young adult section of the ensemble), as fellow Proof performers—including two of Taubl’s sons—nod their heads. “We’re like a big family,” says Jessica Coppola. “We’re basically all best friends.” Inviting an even deeper comparison with the fictional troupe on Glee, Allyson Kaechele admits they can be “dorky” at times.
After hearing them sing, I can report that they’re the real deal. Performing “Rise,” an original written by Taubl, the young singers exhibited levels of passion and confidence and talent you don’t often associate with teenagers.
Besides SOUND Proof, there is SOUND Byte, the children’s group, and the very new addition of SOUND Familiar, the adult ensemble; each group meets weekly. Members pay a semesterly fee of $300 or less, depending on the ensemble, with a discount for siblings and payment plans available.
On Monday, in honor of learning Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” the adult members opened a “bottle of red” and a “bottle of white,” socializing in the practice space in Taubl’s basement before getting down to business to sing in a traditional soprano, alto, tenor and bass configuration.
They’ve got an excellent teacher at the helm. The effervescent Taubl has been performing music most of her life, holding her first choir director job when she was just 15. In addition to SOUND Affect, she leads The Taubl Family Band, comprised of herself, her husband John and seven—that’s right, seven—children, each of whom plays a stringed instrument. They’ve played all over the world.
Plus, you may know them from television. The family had a good run on the 2008 season of “America’s Got Talent,” in which they sang, played and charmed their way to the final fifteen competitors.
For now, though, Taubl is concentrating on SOUND Affect and the group’s many exciting and altruistic plans.
“Basically, the idea is that everything we do has some greater good in mind. So whether it is actually performing for a charity, or collecting money for them, it is [about] making a difference,” she says.
Her enthusiastic band of troubadours are with her all the way. Talking to the young adults, I ask them if they plan to continue performing throughout their lives, perhaps joining other musical groups.
“We want to stay in this group,” clarifies Coppola. That’s music to New Haven’s ears.
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Written and photographed by Cara McDonough.