Anticipated to be one of the most memorable performances at Maryville College, “A Celebration of Gratitude” is a thankful recognition of those in support of the MC concert choir’s preparation for its tour of Scotland. The musical prowess and vocal stamina of this elite group of students, 58 members strong, consistently thrills audiences to the peak of their aural senses.
The concert seeks to showcase the grandeur of the choir’s gratitude by musically illustrating four main categories: faith, honoring religious traditions; Americana, honoring the music and stories of the early Americans who settled the land; heritage and culture, celebrating the music and culture of the Scottish and Irish settlers of East Tennessee; and lastly, light, love and laughter, to demonstrate the importance of health and well-being.
As said by this anonymous author, “No one who achieves success does so without the acknowledgement of the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”
The concert choir will clearly try to portray this sentiment in its upcoming performance. The choir demonstrates just how obliged it is to the multiple families; friends; Maryville College faculty, staff and alumni; churches and new friends abroad which helped the choir gain the unique educational and performance opportunity of traveling abroad.
However, the path to this success was not without its toils. Careful planning facilitates any kind of work, and choir director and coordinator of choral music Stacey Wilner understands the grand effort it takes to put forth a performance of this caliber.
“The students have done a number of things to prepare for this trip, such as the Christmas Dinner: Feast of Song, additional performances by the ensembles at various locations and the Phone-a-thon, which set a record amount for the college,” Wilner said.
In addition to fundraising, Wilner explained how the students also had to learn a variety of new repertoire for the performance as well.
“With approximately two months’ preparation of fall repertoire and two-thirds new music, it has been a push to get it all ready,” Wilner said.
Learning new music is a large feat in itself, let alone with the addition of the extra work that had to be done. Erin Carter, MC senior and concert choir vice president, and fellow senior Jade Watts, choir assistant, agree that preparation for this “Gratitude” performance has been a long and hectic process which, although possible, was overwhelming at times.
The pair of officers jointly explained how amazing the progress since J-term has been.
“It is only possible because we have a talented-enough group to pull off this performance” Watts said. Carter finished by saying, “Mrs. Wilner does a good job of keeping things smooth and the group moving forward.”
Choir members and director alike are thrilled to present the audience with songs such as “Laudate Jehovam, Omnes Gentes” which feature student instrumentalists such as Adam Loo and David White.
Additionally, several songs feature languages like Gaelic, central to certain regions of Ireland and Scotland, and instruments like the bodhran, an Irish frame drum played by Kevin Krapf in “Geantrai” and “Mouth Music.”
The performance opportunities presented to the students are once-in-a-lifetime experiences which must be cherished.
“The whole experience allows you to consciously appreciate every performance and deepen the ways that our personal gratitude can be expressed” Watts said.
Her fellow officer echoed that gratitude.
“We are using our God-given talents to express our big thank you,” Carter said. “Choir has taught me respect for time and people behind the scenes and to realize the efforts behind putting a show together.”
Wilner is very proud of her students and their hard work to make this performance the success that it will surely be.
“The experience of traveling and performing internationally will be life changing for the students,” Wilner said. “They build a sense of global citizenship, gain the experience to be part of the national community, and grow strong as both musicians and people. And for these opportunities presented.
“We are truly grateful.”