Past performers at New York City’s renowned Carnegie Hall include Tchakovsky, Rachmaninoff, Rubenstein, and now the current Mississippi College Singers. This past Sunday, the 51 members earned their place in a rich musical tradition when they performed the New York premiere of Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living.
Dan Forrest also appeared at rehearsals and attended the performance, which provided a unique opportunity for the choir to interact with the composer. During rehearsals, he allowed participants to ask questions about the piece.
“Not everybody gets the opportunity to perform with the composer there himself, so that’s definitely something to be treasured,” said Thulani Mnisi, a sophomore vocal performance major from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Led by conductor Dr. Jamie Meaders, this marks Singers’ fourth appearance since 2006 on the Perlman Stage at Carnegie Hall. Soloists included Thulani Mnisi and Dr. Viola Dacus, a vocal instructor at MC.
Reviewer Jeffrey Williams wrote that “it was a performance to remember…. Dr. James M. Meaders led the distinguished concert orchestra and chorus with meticulous restraint and close attention to detail. When he lowered his baton…the audience erupted into a prolonged standing ovation. Congratulations to our new friends in Mississippi.”
MC Singers performed alongside several high school choirs from Mississippi, including groups from Clinton High, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Germantown High, Jackson Prep, Power APAC, Newton County High, Meridian High, and the Mississippi School for the Arts in Brookhaven.
This is not the first time local students have joined the MC Singers in New York, as several current members had appeared on the stage as high school students in previous years.
A choir from South Carolina that originally commissioned the piece joined the Singers as well. In addition to the choirs onstage, Singers performed with a professional orchestra that regularly appears at Carnegie Hall.
The Music Hall founded by Andrew Carnegie opened on May 5, 1891, with a concert featuring Tchaikovsky’s American debut. Historically heralded as a triumph for music and architecture, the venue presents more than 180 concerts each year that vary from orchestral performances, chamber music, recitals, and choral music to folk, world, musical theater, and jazz.
Two years ago, the Singers also made their debut at New York City’s Lincoln Center with a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. As in the past, the choir will continue to travel to New York every two years, but in future tours will alternate between these two concert halls.
This trip kicks off a busy spring semester for the Singers, who will follow the New York performance in March with an appearance at the Southern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors in Jacksonville, Florida. In May, the Singers will travel to South Africa for another series of concerts.
In addition to these trips, they will perform in the Jackson area several times this semester at local churches, in Provine Chapel for a farewell concert to kick off their spring tour on March 2, and they will also host their annual spring concert in April. In one concert on Feburary 23, they will perform alongside the LSU A Capella choir at Crossgates United Methodist Church in Brandon.
A full listing of their tour schedule can be found on the MC Music Department’s website.
Of the coming semester, senior Brad Robinson said, “The opportunities given to us are incredible and life-changing. I’m so thankful for Dr. Jamie Meaders and Mrs. Carol Joy Sparkman for their leadership and their commitment to excellent music-making and for Dr. Lee Royce, our president, who always give our department and ensemble overwhelming support.”
– Amy Lauren Jones, A&E Editor