Invitational choir festival welcomes local singers to promote high shool arts programs

Maryville College's "Off Kilter" also performed during the event. The group, clad in their MC kilts, performed "Day-O," which featured MC senior Donald Rucker in a solo performance. Photo by Alex Cawthorne

The Invitational High School Choir Festival took place at the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 12.

The festival included performances by eight choral groups, including Maryville College’s own concert choir and Off Kilter. Singing groups from William Blount, Alcoa, Lenoir City, Heritage and Powell high schools also attended the festival, as did the Highlander Chorale community choir.
It was an all-day event, with registration and rehearsals for each group beginning in the early afternoon and culminating in the final performances later that evening.

The program began with an appearance by guest speaker Rob Britt, a former high school music instructor and the current music director at New Providence Presbyterian Church. Britt commented on the benefits of music and arts programs in public high schools and their importance to any well-rounded education.

Each choral group brought one member to the onstage podium to relate personal reasons why music and arts programs in public high schools are necessary for a quality education. The importance of these programs and the negative consequences of their removal from schools became a theme as the evening’s performances continued.

The lineup for the program began with the Highlander Chorale, which consisted of high school students from across the area. The winter-themed songs “Sing We Now So Merrily” and “Sing Me to Winter” welcomed in the holiday atmosphere, while also setting the stage for the rest of the evening’s performances.

The William Blount singers performed “The Best of Glee,” which included songs arranged and choreographed to imitate the hit television program.

The Alcoa singers followed with a riveting performance of a “Michael Jackson Medley,” which showcased beat-boxing as well as singing.
Lenoir City, Heritage and Powell high schools followed with a Powell singers rendition of “Baba Yetu,”  a Swahili version of the Lord’s Prayer, accompanied by an American Sign Language interpretation.

The MC Concert Choir, directed by Stacey Wilner and assistant director Jill Purvis, performed “Emerald Stream,” “Lux Aurumque” and “Ain’t Got Time to Die,” which featured a solo by Seth Tinsley.

Audiences responded with screams and applause as each performance piece ended.

MC choir president Ashley Abbott then took to the podium to discuss the importance of her music education major at MC, continuing the theme of promoting arts programs in public schools.

Following the MC concert choir performance, Off Kilter took the stage.

Senior Donald Rucker took the solo in the first piece, “Day-O,” followed by Andrew Hatcher in “And So It Goes.” Their third piece, the Scottish tune “Loch Lomond,” featured soloists Ethan Patterson and Matthew Coakley. Off Kilter performed these last two pieces at the MC Fine Arts Showcase on Friday, Nov. 11.

The performances were followed by a reception for the singers in the William Baxter III Grand Foyer of the CCA.

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