The Choral Guild of Atlanta performing at Northside Drive Baptist Church. Photo by Dale Patterson
The Choral Guild of Atlanta performing at Northside Drive Baptist Church.

Dale Patterson was recruited for Choral Guild of Atlanta while shopping. She was browsing in a Buckhead silver shop about three years ago when she heard a tune she liked in the store’s background music and she started to sing along.

Sheila Pater, a member of the guild, worked in the shop. She heard Patterson singing to herself and took notice.

Dale Patterson

“I said, “You have such a beautiful voice. You should come sing with the Choral Guild,’” Pater remembers.

It worked. Soon Patterson joined fellow soprano Pater as a singer with the guild, an amateur ensemble that performs classical and contemporary choral works, and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

As part of the guild’s 75th anniversary season, its 40 or so members are staging a performance March 15 of Haydn’s “The Creation.” Then, on March 21, the guild will hold $100-a-plate, black-tie gala at the Piedmont Driving Club. The guild concludes its 2014-15 season in May with a performance of jazz and contemporary choral music.

Patterson, who handles publicity for the group, said the guild was started in 1939 by the Atlanta Music Club as the Music Club Chorus, and is one of the oldest metro Atlanta groups still performing. “It started, I believe, as a community singing group,” she said.

The group was renamed the Choral Guild of Atlanta in 1947, the guild’s webpage says. In the 1960s, the group sang with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the chorus has traveled to Australia and Europe to perform, the webpage says. In 1980, the guild played Carnegie Hall in New York City, the website says.

“Really, the history is remarkable,” Patterson said.

Current guild members come “from every walk of life,” Pater said, and from across metro Atlanta. Pater lives in Sandy Springs. Patterson lives in Buckhead. “There are really no professional musicians per se,” Pater said, “just people who love to sing. There’s lots of what I would call ‘church-choir-type singers’ who enjoy singing.”

Pater, who also sings in a church choir herself, said the group “is almost like a family at this point.”

“There are many long-time people,” she said. “There’s a lot of loyalty within the group.”

Patterson says she’s been singing throughout her life. She started singing lessons at age 5 and as a child sang with a quartet made up of cousins and neighbors in her New York City neighborhood. She pursued a singing career until after she completed college, she said, but finally gave it up because “it was just too hard.”

But she still loved to sing, especially as part of a group. “I think there’s an inexplicable, unattainable thing that kind of speaks to your soul,” she said. “There’s something about music, and singing in particular, that connects to my soul.

“Singing in a choral group … just talks to me. Singing solo is great – singing for myself in the shower is great – but singing with the other parts, it’s just magnified.”

Pater agreed. “If you love to sing, it is a physical and emotional pleasure to sing,” she said. “I love to sing. It gives me pleasure to sing all these interesting things.”

“The Creation,” by Franz Joseph Haydn

The Choral Guild of Atlanta

When: March 15, 4 p.m.

Where: Northside Drive Baptist Church, 3100 Northside Drive

Tickets: $15, $12 seniors, $5 students

For information or tickets: or 404-223-6362

Choral Guild of Atlanta 75th anniversary gala

When: March 21, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Piedmont Driving Club, 1215 Piedmont Ave., NE

Tickets: $100 per person

For more information or tickets: or 404-223-6362

To learn more about the guild, visit

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.