by Tawny Aguayo, Student Contributor
Alice Lloyd College’s Voices of Appalachia, a group of the College’s most talented vocalists and musicians, will be presenting their spring concert on Thursday, April 10th at 7:30 PM. The event will be held on the lawn in front of Miss June’s House. Each semester, the choir puts on an entertaining show, performing a variety of songs that capture the rich history and traditions of the Appalachian Mountains. From upbeat, foot-tapping music to slow worship songs that touch the heart, the Voices of Appalachia perfects three styles of music that will appeal to nearly everyone: traditional, sacred, and choral; shape note; and gospel bluegrass.
The Voices of Appalachia choir was formed in 1962 by Abner Grender, who came to Caney Junior College to teach music. Since then, the group has expanded to include almost sixty members, conducting concerts that are full-scale productions and venturing out on a nationwide tour each spring.
“We love helping students who enjoy music and singing,” says Richard Bowers, conductor of the Voices of Appalachia. “We encourage anyone with an interest to participate. We make every effort and bend over backwards to help students become a part of this wonderful group.”
This year’s Spring Tour took place in numerous churches in the southeastern region of the United States where the Voices of Appalachia performed nine concerts in 10 days. Their biggest show took place at Venice Presbyterian Church in Florida where they were invited to be a part of a Fine Arts exhibition with 1,000 people in the audience. The ALC choir was such a hit that what was supposed to be a 75-minute performance turned into two hours of entertainment.
“The experience was the epitome of Southern hospitality,” said Richard Bowers. “The churches we performed at really rolled out the red carpet for us.”
The Spring Tour is not just about music; it gives the choir a chance to experience other cultures and areas that they might never have the chance to see. Bowers reports that some of the group’s favorite experiences included visiting the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse along the Atlantic Ocean, going to Disney World, and seeing the sun rise while standing in a Georgia cotton field.
This year’s Spring Concert, in which the Voices of Appalachia present their selections as presented on the tour, promises to be an exciting showcase of musical talent with special emphasis on the shape note style of music, a style with a long, extensive history that, despite its beauty, is becoming less and less popular. Originating from England, the shape note style can be seen mainly in Southern gospel music. The Voices of Appalachia receives much inspiration from Valley View Mennonite Church in Leburn, Kentucky, where they visit at least once a semester to hear the unique sounds of the shape note style.
“Abner Grender used the shape note style during his time as the first conductor of the choir,” says Bowers. “We make an effort to preserve his ideas.”
The song lineup for the concert will consist of a variety of songs, both religious and secular, such as “The Good Old Way,” “In Tenderness He Sought Me,” and “My Old Kentucky Home.”
The concert will also include special performances by the Acoustic Instruments Ensemble, who will accompany the Voices of Appalachia, as well.
Plans for the future of the Voices of Appalachia include planning for next year’s activities and events.
“I would also like to see a Fine Arts community be developed on campus,” said Bowers. “I would love to be able to encourage students interested in the arts, whether that is performing arts, dramatic arts, or visual arts.”
For those who cannot make it to the concert, the Voices of Appalachia has a CD that includes many of the songs that will be featured in the show. The CD, titled “I Will Arise and Go to Jesus,” is entirely created and produced by students in the choir.
To receive the CD free of charge and to make a donation to Voices of Appalachia, contact Pauline Amburgey in ALC’s Development Office at 606-368-6454 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.