Cherokee Chorale to celebrate 25th year
by Rebecca Johnston
rjohnston@cherokeetribune.com
September 15, 2012 01:04 AM | 1606 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee Tribune/special<br>From left, Harold Johnson, band director at Cherokee High School; the late Judith MacMillan, music professor at Reinhardt College; and Dr. Don Stafford, co-founder and artistic director of the chorale prepare for the opening concert 25 years ago.
Cherokee Tribune/special
From left, Harold Johnson, band director at Cherokee High School; the late Judith MacMillan, music professor at Reinhardt College; and Dr. Don Stafford, co-founder and artistic director of the chorale prepare for the opening concert 25 years ago.
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CANTON — The Cherokee Community Chorale is celebrating its 25th anniversary Sunday with a reception, and members are singing the long-time organization’s praises.

The Chorale was founded in 1987 when a community newcomer, Genevieve Miller, had the idea that singers and musicians in the county needed an outlet for their abilities and interests.

She made contact with two well-known and talented musicians in the area who were experienced in conducting and in musical educations, Judith R. MacMillan and Dr. Donald Stafford.

The result, after much time, work, and skill invested, was the Cherokee Community Chorale.

The first performance was in 1988, setting the stage for the next 25 years of three memorable concerts each year, including a spring concert, summer offering and Christmas celebration of seasonal song.

The all volunteer Cherokee Chorale’s main purpose has been to promote excellence in choral performance.

Since its inception, the Chorale has performed numerous classic Masterworks such as Handel’s Messiah and the Requiems of Mozart, Brahms, Faure and Rutter and numerous others.

They’ve also performed many concerts of American folk songs and spirituals, patriotic programs and Broadway selections spanning a century of choral writing.

Charter member Joan Denney said that she loves the variety of serious and fun music the group performs.

“It has been a wonderful experience, being music major and not being in the profession, this has been a wonderful opportunity to do some magnificent music and work with some extremely talented musicians,” Denney said. “I like the fact that we get to sing with a large group of serious singers, and I like that we sing serious music as well as Christmas music, and then the fun pops concert.”

This year’s season the Chorale will be composed of about 75 singers, with auditions just completed Sept. 9 and nine new members chosen to be a part of the organization this year.

Stafford, who since the death of MacMillan, has served as artistic director, has helped plan a stellar season for the anniversary. Rehearsals are already underway.

The Christmas Concert features new and old favorites, and a piece commissioned specially for the Cherokee Chorale.

It is directed by Jenny Rawson and John Barker, and will have two performances on Dec. 8 and 9.

The Spring Concert is a tribute to the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and will be directed by Stafford and Martha Shaw.

Plans for the Pops Concert are still in development. It will be directed by Missy Arasi, Wes Stoner, and George Bloom and is set for June 1 and 2.

Ruth Kilgore is a charter member and the group’s historian. She and her husband Dr. Jim Kilgore will be among the voices this season.

She said the couple enjoys the Monday night rehearsals and the joy of being a part of the group.

“It is just that when you are musical, and that is my major emphasis since I majored in music and work in it, the Choral has been a source of extreme musical enrichment and enjoyment. To sing with those who have the same love of music and desire to create beautiful sounds is so rewarding. Ruth Kilgore said of her experiences with the group.

Christmas selections from Handel’s “Messiah” were featured at the fledgling Chorale’s first concert, Dec. 5, 1988, directed by Stafford and accompanied by members of the Atlanta Symphony.

The concert also included a set of traditional Christmas carols sung by the Chorale, a group of numbers by the Cherokee Concert Band directed by Harold Sharp, and a suite performed by the string quartet from the Atlanta Symphony.

The Cherokee Chorale performed its first concert at the First Baptist Church, Canton.

The members wore white blouses and shirts, black skirts and trousers, and red ties. Ticket prices were $4 for adults and $2 for children.

In the spring, the Chorale presented “An Evening of American Music” featuring selections by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Scott Joplin, and directed by J MacMillan. The lighter program was performed at the old Canton High School Auditorium on April 10, 1989, and again at a dinner concert at the Gordy Center, Reinhardt College on April 11 of that year.

The reception to mark the 25th anniversary is Sunday at the Rock Barn and is open to all supporters and alumni of the Cherokee Chorale.

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