The Southern Chorale, The University of Southern Mississippi’s top choral ensemble, has been selected by blind panels to perform at two major national conventions, which in turn has prompted an invitation to yet another major performance – a fully-funded trip to Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Before making those national appearances, the Chorale will preview some of their works for local patrons on Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Bay Street Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg. The concert is free and open to the public.
More than 100 applications for performance and interest sessions were submitted to The National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO) in Portland Ore., yet only six choirs were chosen to perform for the Nov. 12-14 conference, including the Southern Chorale.
In Portland, the Chorale will be premiering Canticle of the Sun, a 12-movement song cycle written by Estonian composer Tõnu Kõrvits. Following his visit to Hattiesburg in 2014, which included a pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta, Kõrvits composed this work with the inscription, “dedicated to all my brothers and sisters in blues, written for The Southern Chorale, Mississippi, conductor Dr. Gregory Fuller.”
The second national convention the Southern Chorale will be attending is the Southern Division Convention of American Choral Directors Association in Chattanooga in March, 2016. Fifteen choirs were chosen to perform, six of them being from the college and university category. A single panel of referees chose the winners through a blind process allowing for the Southern Chorale to appear at this regional conference for the second time in the last decade.
Finally, the Southern Chorale will be performing Canticle of the Sun, as part of Gotham SINGS! Choral Showcase at renowned Carnegie Hall in New York, also in March. Gotham SINGS! is an event presented at Carnegie Hall in New York City each year by Sechrist Travel, and is designed to showcase the top collegiate choirs in the country.
“This event features invited ensembles in a solo performance, under the direction of their own conductors,” says Fuller. “It’s a wonderful academic experience for our singers that allows them to showcase their hard work and talent.”
A typical concert at this venue includes a sizable payment from each performing group to cover the costs of promotion of the concert, and provide a profit and service fee to the promoter. This year, the presenter, Sean Berg has offered to cover these costs for Southern Miss students.
Berg noted, “I have known of Southern’s program, more specifically of Greg’s work since Iowa. As our history goes, right around Katrina, I had The Southern Chorale come to New York City to sing at Carnegie on Thanksgiving in a concert to raise money for Katrina victims. Since then, the program at Southern has developed and grown into one of top choral programs in the United States. Our ability to feature the Southern Chorale now in this way is a testament of the growth and success of the program at Southern Miss.”