Meet the Mountain Laurels!

 Rhonda Lorence (Violin / Viola)Mountain Laurels 258

Rhonda is a classical violist/violinist who’s finding fiddlin’ more fun. She is a founding member of the Mountain Laurels. Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a B.F.A in Music Performance from the University of South Florida. Highlights of her 20 + year performance career include tours in Japan and Korea with the Mantovanni Orchestra, working as the principal violist for the Naples, FL Philharmonic, and performances with Russian Ballet Orchestra, Tampa Bay Opera, and a variety of show orchestras including Johnnie Mathis, Dionne Warwick, Tony Bennet, Henry Mancini, and Burt Bacharach.

Rhonda composes and produces neo-classical music on viola. Winter Moon, 2005 and Movements in the Moment, 2010 have received international airplay since 2006.  Her compositions “Changing Tides” and “Winter Moon” received satellite radio and NPR radio airplay and several of her works have been featured in films and ballets. Rhonda teaches Suzuki violin and viola with Watauga Arts Council in Boone and Harper School for the Performing Arts in Lenoir, NC.

Connie Woolard (Hammered Dulcimer / Percussion)

connie4  Connie is a founding member of the Mountain Laurels. She brings the complex, emotive sounds of the hammered dulcimer to the band. Connie has performed on dulcimer for over 25 years at innumerable community concerts, events, weddings, workshops and worship programs. She played guitar for many years before finding her love for the dulcimer. She enjoys exploring her musical versatility on the violin, the psaltery and whistle as well as occasionally acting in local theatre productions. Connie’s talent for summoning up the delicate, fluid, percussive, resonance of the hammered dulcimer provides the Mountain Laurels with their signature sound.

Elaine Gray (Guitar)

20170811_170801Elaine began her guitar performances in 1980. She was the co-creator of the all female pop-rock band  The Mix (1980-1989) with singer/Songwriter Angela Sterling Forest in Central Florida. She assisted with the studio recording and production of the group’s original music. Elaine also managed the band, handled the live sound production, and created publicity for the group.

Elaine recorded and composed original pieces (Orbothea, Radiant Spiral, Rocketman) for theater, film, and performance art events from 1990 – 1995.  She performed on guitar with several splinter groups from the Mix (The Creamettes, Angie B & the Thrill Things) in the 1990’s before taking a break from music to return to academia and get her Ph.D. in Integral Studies.

Maggie Sparks (Flute and Whistle)Maggie

Maggie Sparks has been playing flute since 1966, and has performed in a wide variety of large bands and orchestras, as well as small ensembles and chamber groups, with periodic time off for medical school, residency training, and children. After moving her Dermatology practice to the High Country in 2000, she studied flute and music theory for a year at Appalachian State University. More recently, she has been studying Irish traditional music, including the Irish whistle. She is the newest member of the Mountain Laurels