CCA hosts choir festival

The MC ensemble performed "Emerald Stream" and many other songs during the music festival. This event brought local colleges and high schools together for one purpose: music. Photo by Hannah Fry

The Maryville College Division of Fine Arts hosted a choral music festival at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre of the Clayton Center for the Arts.

The free event was open to the public and was “an event to celebrate all choral music within our area,” according to Stacey Wilner, choral director at MC.

Wilner, the host of the choral festival, began the evening with words from the Greek philosopher Plato: “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

Welcoming a host of different community colleges and high schools to the stage, Wilner encouraged them to remember MC within their future academic and musical careers.

“We would love to have you here,” she said.

Several choirs made their debuts at the CCA. Ensembles from Hiwassee College, Roane State Community College and Pellissippi State Community College participated in the choral festival for the first time this year.

The first ensemble to perform was the Highlander Chorale, a community high school choir based at MC. The choir is under the direction of Jill Purvis, who also serves as the accompanist for the MC Concert Choir. Choral assistants for the Highlander Chorale include Ashley Abbott and Eric Hill, both senior music majors at MC.

The Highlander Chorale performed “The Salley Gardens’ Red, Red Rose” by Joseph Martin and the famous choral piece “Joshua and the Jericho Cats” by David N. Davenport.

Ms. Brenda Luggie, the director of the Roane State ensemble led her choir in three pieces, including “When Jesus Wept” by William Billings, “Little Innocent Lamb” by Marshal Bartholomew and  an arrangement of James Taylor’s “Your Smiling Face” by Ken Berg.

Alan Eleazar, who is also conductor of Maryville’s Community Chorus, led the Hiwassee College Chorale. The Chorale presented “Sing with Joy” from “Judas Maccabaeus”  by George Frederic Handel, as well as “Blow the Candles Out” arranged by Greg Smith and “City Called Heaven” arranged by Josephine Poelinitz. This final piece featured soloist Abel Carrico.

Karns High School brought two different groups to the choral festival at MC. Director Caryn Marlowe conducted not only the Karns Ensemble, which performed “Gloria Patri” by Bach, but also the Karns Advanced Mixed Choir. The Mixed Choir performed “Exsultate Justi” by Ludovico da Viadana, “The Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre and “Ain’t Got Time to Die” by Hall Johnson.

“Ain’t Got Time to Die” featured Michael Toth as soloist, the assistant principal at Karns High School.

The Pelissippi State Variations, directed by Bill Brewer, performed “Almighty God of our Fathers” by Will James, as well as “Ritmo” by Dan Davidson.

The Bearden High School show choir, a group of female singers led by Mary Sexton, sang “The Little Horses” by Aaron Copland, “I Am Not Yours” by David N. Childs and “Reel a Bouche” by Malcolm Dalglish.

The MC Concert Choir, led by Stacey Wilner, performed “Emerald Stream” by Seth Houston; “Hear My Prayer” by Moses Hogan; and “Hark! I Hear the Harps Eternal,” arranged by Shaw and Parker.

The evening closed with MC’s Off Kilter, an acapella ensemble. They performed “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel; an arrangement of the “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by Raugh and Sharon; and “Loch Lomond,” a Scottish ballad arranged by Jonathan Quick. The featured soloists included Andrew Hatcher, Ethan Patterson and Seth Tinsley.

The Scottish tune was selected to acknowledge the MC Concert Choir and Off Kilter’s upcoming tour to Scotland in May.

The choir festival was a great success, ending up in a full house for the Nutt Theatre in the Clayton Center for the Arts. Afterwards, a reception was held for all of the choirs and the choir members’ friends and family.

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