Chorale To Tour In Nashville

After demonstrating its prowess on the fall tour, the Central Methodist University Chorale will be singing on an upcoming tour to the Nashville, Tenn., area May 13-20.

The Repertoire

The Chorale will sing individual songs from the repertory, depending on where it performs and how long it has at each spot. Its repertoire will include “Abide” with piano, by Dan Forrest; “A Choral Fanfare” by John Rutter; “A Maiden is in a Ring” by Hugo Alfvén; “Agnus Dei” by Samuel Barber; “America,” arranged by Joe Liles; “Angel Band” by Shawn Kirchner;

“Arise, My Love” by Stephen Paulus; “Assurance” by Ken Berg; “By and By,” a spiritual by Carol Barnett; “Beautiful Savior” by F. Melius Christiansen; “Draw up Water from the Well” by James E. Clemens; the spiritual “Elijah Rock by Moses Hogan; “Give Me Jesus,” arranged by Larry L. Fleming; “Hard Times,” arranged by Craig Hella Johnson;

The Russian piece “Hvalite imia Ghospodne” by Sergei Rachmaninoff; “It is Well with my Soul,” arranged by Jamey Ray; “Nicolette” by Maurice Ravel; “Not Ashamed” with piano, written for the Chorale by Dan Forest; “Memento Creatoris Tui” by Michael Waldenby; “Salve Regina” by Orlando di Lassus; “Sehnsucht” with piano, by Johannes Brahms;

“Shenandoah,” arranged by James Erb; “Take my Hand” by John David Earnest; “The Lord is my Shepherd” with piano and clarinet, by John Rutter; “The Singers Dance” with piano by Kim André Arnesen; the spiritual “Wade in the Water” by Allen Koepke; and “When I Can Read my Title Clear” with piano by Dan Forrest.

The post-semester tour scheduled in May is the third the Chorale has taken in the last three years, following the trip to Portland, Ore., to sing for the United Methodist General Conference (1916) and the next year’s trip to Washington D.C. where they sang at a variety of sites, including the National Cathedral, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Holocaust Museum.

Chorale’s tour (marked OPEN if it is open to the public at no cost)

Sunday, May 13: services at Wentzville UMC, Wentzville, Mo., at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. OPEN

Monday, May 14: Blakeford Retirement Center in Nashville, Tenn. At 1 p.m. OPEN

Tuesday, May 15: On a walking tour of downtown, Nashville, the Chorale hopes to sing at Historic Presbyterian Church, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Ryman Auditorium, at the War Memorial Building, on the steps of the state Capital. OPEN

Wednesday, May 16: in the Upper Room Chapel 10:45 a.m. (1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville), at the Parthenon around 1 p.m., and a concert at Andrew Price UMC (2846 Lebanon Pike, Nashville). BOTH OPEN They will also be recording a session at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Thursday, May 17: at Dollywood performance venue, 11:30 a.m., in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and a concert at the Marietta Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tenn., 7 p.m. BOTH OPEN

Friday, May 18: at the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, in Nashville, 9 a.m., and a full  concert in the lobby of the Nashville Symphony, 6 p.m. BOTH OPEN

Saturday, May 19:having a music clinic with Dr. Tucker Biddlecombe at Vanderbilt University, 10:30 a.m.-noon followed by a Central Methodist University alumni concert at the home of Dr. Nancy Peacock, Nashville oncology doctor.

Sunday, May 20: service at Forest Hills UMC in Brentwood, Tenn. OPEN

The History

The Chorale has a long and prestigious history at Central Methodist University. It was originally organized as the A Cappella Choir by then-Central student Luther T. Spayde in the fall of 1932 when 55 students, faculty, and townspeople expressed a desire to sing in a choir for church services.

In November of that year, the choir made its first “tour” to Kansas City, giving a concert in the afternoon over radio station WDAF and singing at the services of two Kansas City Methodist Churches. Another one-day trip was taken to three nearby cities that spring.

The fall of 1933 found the first auditions for the choir, and membership was limited to students and faculty. In April 1934 concerts were given in St. Louis, St. Charles, and Mexico, Mo. In May, another one-day, three-city trip was taken. The A Cappella Choir had established itself as an outstanding vocal organization.

Luther Spayde never left Central. He became the dean of Central’s Swinney Conservatory of Music when Dr. N. Louise Wright retired in 1952.

Dean Spayde continued to direct the choir until his unexpected death on Oct. 11, 1972. At his funeral, Linn Memorial United Methodist Church was packed with former members who loved and honored him beyond words. Dr. Marilyn Dimond, a music faculty member, took over the choir for the remainder of the year.

In fall of 1973 Dr. John Roberts became dean of the Conservatory and directed the choir for two years, followed by Dr. John Augenblick from 1978-1981.

Finally, in the fall of 1981, Dr. R. Paul Drummond became the A Cappella Choir’s sixth director, stabilizing the quality and sense of direction for the group. He led the group until his untimely death in 2007. Dr. Ron Shroyer, current dean of the Conservatory, assumed the post for that year. In 2008, Dr. Claude Westfall was hired as the head of the vocal activities and has led the choir, now known as the Chorale, since that time.

Westfall has brought the Chorale back to its glory days, broadening its repertoire and challenging the range and passion of the students who comprise it. Central Methodist University’s Chorale gains more acclaim each year.

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