MC Concert Choir heads to Williamsburg, Va., for annual Choir Tour

MC Concert Choir heads to Williamsburg, Va., for annual Choir Tour

March 5, 2002

For members of the Maryville College Concert Choir, it's that time of year again.

Time for the annual Choir Tour.

This year, the chartered bus and its nearly 40 passengers are destined for Williamsburg, Va., and several churches and high schools in between.

The Tour gets underway, officially, on campus March 15 with a mini-concert in the Ragsdale Atrium of Bartlett Hall. Former choir members, alumni, students, faculty and staff are invited for doughnuts and coffee at the 10 a.m. concert. At 10:30 a.m., choir members will board the bus for the mid-Atlantic.

The Choir Tour became an annual tradition in the 1940s. In recent years, choir members have spent their Spring Breaks on the road and performed, as part of the Choir Tour, in churches and high schools in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

This March, the 32-member choir will perform five concerts in venues between Maryville, Tenn., and Williamsburg, Va., during its Spring Break tour.

The choir will perform in Princeton, W.V., on March 15; Chester, Va., on March 17 (a.m.); Richmond, Va., on March 17 (p.m.); Asheville, N.C., on March 19; and Greeneville, Tenn., on March 20.

The choir's annual Homecoming Concert is scheduled for March 28 in the College's Wilson Chapel. The performance will begin at 8 p.m.

Under the direction of Ms. Stacey Murphy Wilner, the choir has been working on selections that represent many musical genres. The concert program is separated into two parts: A traditional celebration of music; and a celebration of music of colonial America.

The theme for the tour is "Sing me to Heaven," which comes from the lyrics of a choral number by Daniel Gawthorp. To complement the tour's stops at 224-year old Abingdon, Va., Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and Colonial Williamsburg (Va.), the choir has added a few patriotic numbers to its program.

Katie Wagner, a member of the Concert Choir, explained the connection between the tour's theme and the places choir members will be visiting during their tour.

"As Daniel E. Gawthorp superbly expresses in his work, the grace of song enables the human spirit to share those emotions, which we experience from our first lullaby to our last requiem," said Wagner, who is majoring in music education at the College. "The choir has the privilege to convey through music these dreams of love, hope and peace to a nation that has fought for the right to live freely for many years."

Wilner, who holds degrees in music education and choral conducting from Concord College and the University of Tennessee, said she is very proud of this year's Choir. She believes that the members of the Choir have shown amazing versatility in their ability to adapt to a variety of choral styles, have demonstrated a real interest in learning, and have exhibited musical growth as individuals and an ensemble.

"Because of a strong work ethic and willingness of members to invest a lot of their time, this year's Concert Choir has shown creative growth and exhibits a real passion and love for choral music," she said. "They truly give the best of themselves in both the rehearsal and performance setting."

Featured selections from the concert include Harry Harter's "The Twenty-Third Psalm," Felix Mendelssohn's "He, Watching Over Israel," Daniel Gawthorp's "Sing Me to Heaven," Bob Chilcott's "Shenandoah," William Billing's "David's Lamentation," Aaron Copland's "Zion's Walls" and "Hark! I Hear the Harps Eternal" composed by Robert Shaw and Alice Parker.

For more information on the Concert Choir or 2002 Choir Tour, call the Division of Fine Arts at 865-981-8150.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.