Choral groups present magnificent holiday performances

Posted on January 22, 2016 9:41 PM

On Dec. 14 of this year, area choral music educators hosted the first ever “Logan County Choral Extravaganza!” at the deGraffenried Auditorium at Russellville High School. For the first time, choral groups from all over the county joined together for a wonderful evening of holiday performances.

The groups performing included the Adairville Middle School Choir, the Logan County High School Choir, the deGraffenried Chorale and the newly formed Logan County Children’s Chorus. Each group spent tremendous amounts of time preparing and rehearsing for the event and the results showed as stellar performances ruled the night.

The Adairville Middle School Choir is a group made of students in grades 6-8, led by Justin Kirby and accompanied by Larry Vaught. They opened with the beloved African American spiritual “Hush! Somebody’s Calling my Name.” For the past two years, this group has been to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to witness performances by the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University and enjoy hearing these same spirituals that they would perform.

The AMS Choir followed with performances of “A Christmas Canon,” a beautiful setting of the familiar tune ‘O Waly Waly’ that featured Adairville student Rylee Hobbs on the flute and “Christmas…In About 3 Minutes,” a medley of well-known Christmas hits (21 tunes meshed together). Finally, the group closed with the comical piece “A Cold in My Nose,” featuring Joshua Lawrence as the soloist with the ‘cold.’ This piece also featured the rhythmic stylings of J.J. Marais on the drum set as well as some virtuosic improvisations on the piano by Larry Vaught.

The Logan County High School Choir then took the stage, directed by LCHS’s David Dayton and accompanied by Justin Kirby. They first gave a stunning rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” offset by the next selection, a solemn take on the “Kyrie” text written by Eugene Butler. 

The small ensemble then performed “Lullaby on the Wind,” which arranged the Silent Night melody into a modified version. This was followed by the fiery “Cantate Domino” and continued with an arrangement of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.” Dayton was sure to recognize his ensemble as they had picked, prepared and performed this acapella piece on their own.

The group ended their portion of the concert with “The First Snowfall,” which included a serene acapella section, and “On with the Snow!,” a medley arrangement featuring some pop holiday classics. 

This performance was not the end of the holiday performance schedule for this group, as they again took the stage that very same Thursday at SKyPAC with the Logan County High School Band and Jazz Band.

Following the LCHS Chorus, the deGraffenried Chorale took the stage.  The deGraffenried Chorale is led by Mary Beth Dowden and accompanied by Susan Fox. This group is an auditioned chorus made of adult and top high school singers.  The Chorale performed selections from one of the great masterpieces in choral literature, Handel’s Messiah.

Without a chamber orchestra, Fox masterfully played the orchestral reduction while the choir riveted the audience with the selections And the Glory of the Lord, For Unto Us a Child is Born, and the Hallelujah chorus.

Lastly, the newly formed Logan County Children’s Chorus took the stage. This group was formed just before Fall Break of 2015 and took on the ambitious task of being prepared to perform just a few months later. The group has students representing each of the five feeder schools to Logan County High School as well as students from Russellville Independent’s Stevenson Elementary, with ages ranging from grades 4 to 6, are directed by Justin Kirby and Larry Vaught. 

They opened their portion of the concert with Greg Gilpin’s calypso piece “The Papaya Song.”  This was followed that with “Happy Holidays,” “Santa Makes the ‘Rounds’” and “Believe” from the Polar Express. This was followed by the masterfully done “All Thy Gifts of Love” written by David L. Brunner.  The last selection really brought the house down and earned the chorus a standing ovation. It was a stirring arrangement of “Joshua,” written by Joseph M. Martin & J. Paul Williams. This piece also featured David Dayton on the Bass and J.J. Marais again on the drum set.

As a final treat for the evening, all groups performed a wonderful arrangement of “O Holy Night” led by soloist, and KMEA All-State Choir Selection, Brittany Carter.

A wonderful concert with great performances by all ensembles, the night served as a reminder and testament to the importance of the arts in our two school districts and showed the many available opportunities for students interested in arts programs in the Logan County area. 

Those interested in future events by music programs in Logan County can stay up to date on events and happenings by following these pages on Facebook: Logan County High School Band, Logan County Children’s Chorus, and Russellville City Arts Council.

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