– Michael Caruso, Chestnut Hill Local, April 24, 2014
When the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia presents Julia Wolfe’s “Anthracite Fields” Saturday & Sunday, April 26 & 27, 4 and 7:30 p.m., in the Episcopal Cathedral Church in West Philadelphia, executive director Janelle McCoy of Roxborough will have been one of those most responsible for the world premiere taking place.
McCoy was born and raised in a rural North Carolina town of about 500 in population near the Appalachian Mountains. Although neither of her parents was musical, she was drawn to music at an early age and began studying piano when she was four years old with the wife of a minister — “the only musician in our small town,” she recalled.
“Thankfully, our school district had a visionary band program. While most were focused on splashy marching bands for football season, our teachers gave us transcriptions of classical music for wind and percussion orchestras. We had no string program.” Until she auditioned for the lead in “The Music Man,” no one knew that she had a fine, strong voice that could be heard without amplification at the back of the auditorium.