The festival concert, was held at 4:00 p.m. in the Callaway Auditorium on Saturday March 10th, 2018. As part of the Choral Society’s community outreach commitment, the event was free and open to the public. This project was co-sponsored with the LaGrange College Department of Music.
For the singers, the festival day began with morning rehearsals. They spent the first half of the day reviewing and rehearsing the music that would be performed that afternoon. Each director chose two selections which would best represent their choir’s skills and talents. The day was divided into a morning session, a lunch break, and a collaborative afternoon session under the direction of the guest director, Dr. Michelle Herring-Folta. The full formal concert was the result of excellent preparation, extensive planning and outstanding musicianship. Working together in such a fashion builds camaraderie as well as a network for these talented singers from our local area. Singing can be a life-long fulfillment as was testament onstage. While the choirs spanned a variety of generations, they became one united entity for the final collaborative performance.
This year, the noted guest director was Dr. Michelle Herring-Folta. Dr. Herring-Folta is the assistant professor of choral/general music education at Columbus State University and the artistic director for the Voices of the Valley Children’s Chorus. Dr. Herring-Folta earned her Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Previous degrees include a Bachelor’s degree in Music Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of North Texas.
2018 West Georgia Choral Festival Choirs:
LaGrange College Chamber Choir, Dr. Beth Everett, Director; Diane Voegtlin, piano
Faithful Hearts Women’s Ensemble, Sandy Blair, Director
Masterworks Chorale, Kathy Bizarth, Director; Andrew Harry, piano
Phi Mu Alpha Men’s Ensemble of Columbus State University, Joshua Partridge, Director
Lafayette Christian School Chorale, Darlene Shaw, Director/piano with Jalen Smith, Assistant Director
Voices of the Valley Children’s Community Chorus, Dr. Michelle Herring-Folta, Director; Sam Brown, piano
The Choral Society of West Georgia, Elizabeth W. Biggs, Director; Ken Bailey, Associate Director; Andrew Harry, piano; Jason Hernandez, percussion
The 2018 Festival Chorus, under the direction of Dr. Michelle Herring-Folta with Sam Brown, piano and Jason Hernandez, percussion, performed the following pieces:
The Music of Living – Dan Forrest
Distant Land – John Rutter
He Never Failed Me Yet – Robert Ray with Caleb Brown and Landon Bell, soloists
The choirs, individually, performed exceptionally well. Each one was musically unique, well prepared, and presented an outstanding variety of literature, genre, and voicings. Collaboratively, the final choral presentation was simply spectacular in size, scope and success.
Two hundred and forty five singers completely draped the stage at Callaway Auditorium, as seen in the photos. The sheer joy of this extraordinary musical experience was truly evident on the faces of the singers, instrumentalists and Dr. Herring-Folta. She directed with enormous sensitivity, control and experience. Her choice of literature for the festival choir showcased their ability to perform with energy, power, contrast, and great musical nuance. As an audience member, the combined force of listening to these voices was staggering. One could audibly hear the audience’s intake of breath when the first two chords were sung. There was no doubt that many of the listeners wished they could become a part of such an endeavor.
With a standing ovation and three encores, the 2018 West Georgia Choral Arts Festival was a truly sublime and remarkable community choral event and further substantiates the transformative power of people united together through word and song.
“To sing like this, in the company of other souls, and to make those consonants slip out so easily and in unison, and to make those chords so rich that they bring tears to your eyes. This is transcendence. This is the power that choral singing has that other music can only dream of –”
Garrison Keillor, American humorist, writer and avid choir member….
Presented by the Choral Society of West Georgia and the LaGrange College Music Department, this Choral Arts Festival is sponsored in part through the generosity of The West Point Fund, InterfaceFlor, and the Choral Society of West Georgia.