MC hosts Invitational Choir Festival Feb. 21

MC hosts Invitational Choir Festival Feb. 21

Feb. 5, 2013
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

The Maryville College Concert Choir will host an Invitational Choir Festival on Thurs., Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre.

This semester’s festival, titled “A Song for South Sudan,” will serve as a benefit concert for Africa Education and Leadership Initiative (Africa ELI), a registered international non-governmental organization based in Knoxville that focuses on bridging gender gaps in South Sudan through education. The mission of Africa ELI is to empower women in South Sudan to serve as national, local and family leaders; engage in business enterprise; improve health practices; and effectively counteract forces of conflict and oppression.

Participants include choirs from Pellissippi State Community College, directed by Bill Brewer; Maryville College, directed by Stacey Wilner; Heritage High School, directed by Chris Clift; Baylor School of Chattanooga, directed by Vic Oakes; Karns High School, directed by Caryn Marlowe; Bearden High School, directed by Mary Sexton; the Highlander Chorale, directed by Jill Purvis; and Heritage Middle School, directed by Carol Ward.

“During the festival, a student representative from each choir will speak about the value of educational, economic and health opportunities we have so readily available in the United States – and our responsibility as citizens to work to counteract forces of conflict and oppression that exist in the world,” said Stacey Wilner, coordinator of choral music at MC.

During the event, Dr. Ariane Schratter, associate professor of psychology at Maryville College and an ex-officio board member of Africa ELI, will speak briefly to the audience, and the MC Concert Choir will perform during a brief PowerPoint presentation.

“The positive impact of Maryville College students and faculty on Africa ELI-sponsored students in The Republic of South Sudan (RSS) cannot be overstated,” said Anita Henderlight, executive director of Africa ELI. “Recent MC graduates have assisted with programming and teaching in South Sudan. Several MC students have donated time to produce marketing materials for us to distribute in communities. Various campus groups have raised awareness and contributed financial support in order for the young people in South Sudan to get to go to school.

“The Choir Festival and Benefit Concert is yet another way that MC students are reaching out and helping to give a boost to young war survivors who dream of graduating from high school. When Maryville College and Africa ELI partner on behalf of the girls and boys in South Sudan, it's a win-win situation for all.”

The concert is free and open to the public. Donation envelopes will be available for attendees who would like to make donations to Africa ELI to support the organization’s efforts.

For more information, please contact Wilner at 865.981.8151 or

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.