Terry Denny

Terry Denny is a music teacher with the Wake County Schools. Terry directed the chorale from Spring 1997 to Fall 1998. With her husband Victor, they arranged and produced the music for four seasons.

Terry has returned in the fall of 2001 to continue in the role of director.

From the Cary News, September 27, 2001:
Terry Denny knows a thing or two about music.

She certainly has enough experience; the Garner resident is director of the Encore Singers, based in Cary, as well as the music teacher at Lacy Elementary in Raleigh. She has degrees from the Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory of Music, and has built a reputation at several music theaters in the Triangle.

Performing, and guiding others to perform, is a big part of her life.
"I just couldn't do without music," she said.

These days, directing the children at Lacy, and the adults of the Encore Singers, takes up a big part of her time.

The Encore Singers is an adult showchoir that performs a set of Christmas and spring shows each year. The group began as the Triangle IBM Chorale, and was originally sponsored by the IBM corporation.

"Eventually, corporate support dwindled, but these people wanted to sing," Denny said.

It evolved into an independent group, and now meets weekly to practice at the Glenaire retirement home. Every Christmas, they perform holiday music at community events around the Triangle, including the Cary and Raleigh tree-lighting ceremonies, various rest homes and even prisons. The repertoire expands in the spring. Past shows have included 1950s and 1960s  music, Broadway tunes and jazz.

Denny has been with the 15-member group off and on for the past several years, coming on as the primary director when the Encore Singer's founding director, Chuck Peterson, passed away in January.

"I like their philosophy," Denny said. "They don't just do this for fun. They really do a lot for people who don't have a lot of outside contact, almost as a community service."

The group is always looking for new members, Denny said, and the Encore Singers don't require prospective performers to audition.
"Most people interested in music will do fine," she said. "In choral groups, you want a variety of voices, anyway."

Leslie Heavey has worked with Denny through the Encore Singers for about four years.

Heavey said she has added a lot to their performances.

"We were thrilled to get her," Heavey said. "She has incredible musical abilities. She's the best director I've ever worked with. She's really, really good, very talented and giving of her time."

Denny's musical background stretches back to her childhood. She remembers first singing for an audience when she was about 7 years old. Throughout public school, she concentrated on music and science, and found it difficult to choose one over the other when it was time to go to college.

In the end, music won out.

"I realized I just couldn't live without music," she said. "It was so much a part of my life. I was offered a full scholarship to study science, but paid for a music education instead," majoring in piano and voice.

Denny moved south to North Carolina from her native Connecticut upon marrying her husband, Victor, a native of Chapel Hill. She worked for a number of local theaters, including the Melodrama Theater in Durham, the Triangle and Lakeside dinner theaters and the Neuse Little Theater.

But she needed another job to pay the bills, and took a position as a teacher assistant at Hunter Elementary School. She loved working with children and introducing them to music, and so went back to school for a teaching certificate. She's been teaching full time since 1991.

Teaching led to another of Denny's projects, the KOALA Kompany. She and her husband founded KOALA - Kids' Original Adventures with Learning and Affirmation - to nurture and encourage children through musical performances. The children's theater performs around the Triangle, all original plays written and composed by the Dennys.

"Kids are exposed to so much negative influence, I wanted to do something positive," Denny said. "All of these plays are about values. It's a way to make a difference, in a fun way."

The KOALA Kompany has performed about 14 shows over the last nine or 10 years, mostly in Wake and Johnston counties.

When she's not involved in one musical performance or another, Denny likes to volunteer for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, digging fossils for its Fossil Lab. She has several dinosaur bones - or at least fragments of dinosaur bones - on display there. 

She and the other volunteers dig at museum sites around the state (staff doesn't like to publicize exactly where they dig, as a means of preservation). Small finds, like shark teeth, Denny keeps. She turns anything significant over to the museum for study.

"You'd be amazed at how much is here in this state," she said. "I found a vertebra from a Hipsebema once. No one has ever found the whole thing before, and this was the first [fossil] found here. The curator was very excited. You never know what you're going to find."

  • Megan Jones

Last Updated: November 7, 2001

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