Dr. John Flanery directs the Southern Miss Choirs and Orchestra for the annual Holiday Choral Spectacular at the Main Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. The Southern Chorale plans to leave for its trip to Jamaica on March 5. -Susan Broadbridge/Printz
In January 2011, the Southern Chorale was honorably invited to Jamaica by The University of the West Indies choir, led by Noel Dexter. The group toured in Montego Bay, Kingston and other cities in Jamaica, performing wherever they went.
“It was a very successful tour and a great experience,” said graduate student in choral activities Joey Wolfe. “We sang for adult audiences, the governor general, school children and more. My wife is from Jamaica and she and I were getting married, so chorale also sang for our wedding.”
Four years later, the singing group has maintained the connections with The University of the West Indies choir and with Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and will be returning to Jamaica for a second trip.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity to go back and it was an all around great situation for us,” Wolfe said.
The Southern Chorale leaves for its trip to Jamaica on March 5, returning March 14 with a total of about 50 students and faculty traveling.
While it is a typical tradition for choirs to travel, performing in concert tours, the Southern Chorale has had an advantage with its tours. With two students a part of the Southern Chorale being from Jamaica and from academic exchanges, the group is well-known in the area.
“We are a touring choir and I wanted to take advantage of these connections with people that are our friends,” said director of Choral Activities Gregory Fuller.
The first time the choir traveled to Jamaica, it performed to diplomats and ambassadors from China and India.
“We have at least some level of visibility on the island and there are people that know who we are,” Fuller said. “Our concerts will definitely be well attended.”
To minimize traveling costs for the singers, the chorale is not using a touring company to organize the trip, however, it is having graduate students like Wolfe coordinate the traveling.
“We have to learn how to plan a tour so we save a lot of money and we do that not only because we want to be affordable, but we want to take a good choir with us,” Wolfe said.
“For us grad students we really get a hands on education. We learn by doing like tour planning event planning and recruiting and many things we’d have to do as college choral directors and our department’s coordinators give us opportunities to do those things in this great program.”
The Southern Chorale began planning the trip in February 2014, searching for hotel rates to better prepare students before the summer for the cost that is to come. The members of the choir are thankful to have been to Jamaica before which serves as an advantage of having an idea of places to reside.
The chorale tries to perform alternate tours, internationally and domestically, ever year. In 2013, the chorale went to Hungary, where it was invited to sing in Budapest and in 2014, the group toured cities in Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.
“It’s important to do both and to sing to students here in the country so we can recruit and also to take the show on the road to get our students to see a broader world,” Wolfe said.
Not sure if I should include this quote nor not:
“I have heard many U.S. collegiate choirs over the years, and based on the types of invitations we get to sing to music teachers and choral conductors so we are ranked up there in the upper echelon of chorals
international and regional conventions, regularly sing for Mississippi choral staff and directors,” said Wolfe.