Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Antioch choir joins with professional chorale

Concert Chorale of Nashville will perform with high school group By SUZANNE NORMAND BLACKWOOD • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • April 16, 2008 ANTIOCH — When all Metro high schools were invited last fall to apply for a chance to do a joint concert with the Concert Chorale of Nashville, "Antioch was clearly the school that was most interested," said chorale president Thomas Limbird. The school submitted letters written by its choral students, choir director and principal. As a result, the two choirs will offer a joint concert at St. Henry Catholic Church on Sunday, April 27. The concert will be the first in a new partnership between the Concert Chorale of Nashville and Metro Nashville Public Schools. Together, the two choirs will perform "American Mass" by Ron Kean. The piece is a "Missa Brevis" or "Short Mass" merging American hymns and spirituals with traditional choral liturgy. Separately, the Antioch choir will perform "My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns and Rene Clausen and "Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart Be Staid) by Z. Randall Stroope" — two pieces it performed at the Middle Tennessee Vocal Association Choral Festival. The Concert Chorale will also perform some pieces separately, and an orchestra composed of local professional musicians will perform with the two choirs. "The opportunity for us is immense — first of all, to be working with professionals and to get to perform with professionals," said Connie McCain, Antioch High School choral director. McCain said this performance likely will be an experience the students will never forget, regardless of whether they go on to be professional musicians. "Music is a lifelong learning experience, and if you have a good start, then you have that desire to continue learning," she said. Students get extra exposure, experience "We have always been interested in fostering classical music," said Limbird. The partnership "seemed (like) another way to get people interested in vocal music." Limbird, a professor of surgery and chief of orthopedic surgery at Meharry Medical College, said the chorale's members are volunteers, and most have non-music careers during the day. But, he added, most of them have degrees in music, and all of them have been trained. In addition, "We almost all sing in our church choirs or other musical groups," he said. The two choirs have been rehearsing for the concert since January. Chorale director Sherry Kelly has been working with the Antioch students on their performance. Kelly, who used to teach music at Belmont University, formed the chorale with accompanist Linda Ford. "They have a very good choir director," said Kelly, referring to Antioch's McCain. "But when somebody comes in from the outside, I think it's great for the kids to be exposed (to that)," she said. Kelly said she likes the piece the two choirs have chosen to perform together. "I think they all really get a feel for what the piece is about," she said. Teacher says it's 'most talented . . . group' It's a piece that McCain has wanted her students to do for a long time. With a mixture of familiar Protestant tunes and traditional parts of the Mass, McCain said the students are getting a diverse cultural experience. Also, she said, she believes they are ready to do the work involved in this style of choral music. "This is the group to do it," she said. "This is the most talented and musically inclined group I've had." Nikeeta Tidwell, a senior, said she has enjoyed learning the Latin used in the Mass. She said she also honored that the chorale chose to do the concert with the Antioch choir. It's the first opportunity they've had to perform with a professional adult choir, and it shows that the chorale's members have confidence in them, she said. Nikeeta said Kelly has really challenged them. They really have to "know the music." Also, she said, she appreciates how McCain has challenged them and encouraged them in this endeavor. "It's something new to me," said senior Joshua McAdoo. "Her style of conducting is different from our director's style of conducting," he said about Kelly. Joshua said it's very different from the high school experience. This is what he expects studying choral music in college might be like. Joshua said he is glad that McCain is letting them do this. It shows that she really believes in them, he said. "It made me feel good about us as a choir."

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