Lee University recently extended an invitation to approximately 160 high school students to come together for a weekend celebration of music during the annual Honor Choir performance.

The students representing high school choirs throughout eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia began registering at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 8.

Over the course of the weekend, students rehearsed an assortment of choral pieces in preparation for the concert that took place on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. on the Conn Center stage.

Students were separated into the Women’s Choir—conducted by Dean of the School of Music Dr. William Green—and the Men’s Choir—conducted by Assistant Professor of Choral Music Dr. Joshua Cheney—later combining to form one mixed choir.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to share music with the area and to even expand past the area,” said Green. “Music is an important part of the culture and an important part of the students’ lives.”

The Men’s Choir—with Director of Accompanying Mary Beth Wickes—and the Women’s Choir—accompanied by Joo-Hae Kim—each performed three pieces before combining to perform two additional pieces chosen by Green and Cheney.

“It’s amazing to see the development of these students from the time they arrive here…until the concert on Saturday afternoon,” Green said. “It’s been great to see their work this weekend.”

The concert also showcased performances from the Lee University Choral Union and the Lee University Chorale.

Chair of Lee’s Music Education Department LuAnn Holden said that establishing camaraderie early on and providing role models for the students is essential to learning and future recruitment.

“We want the high school students to hear the university choirs,” Holden said. “If I had asked Choral Union, ‘How many of you performed in Honor Choir?’ there would be several students [raising] their hands.”

The Lee University Honor Choir has performed for approximately 27 years  and has featured students from Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky with the goal of inspiring a life-long love of music.

“Through the years, thousands of high school students have participated in this,” Holden said. “This has really made an impact in their love of choral music and their continuance of singing.”

Senior at McMinn Central High School Savannah Stansell performed in the women’s and mixed choir and said she enjoyed the two years she has participated in the program.

“I enjoy this every year, and I love the music that we do here,” Stansell said. “A lot of times it has a spiritual significance, and I find it really inspiring. I’m definitely going to miss it next year.”

High school students are eligible to participate in Honor Choir, and high school choir directors are tasked with selecting the top students from their choral programs to represent their school.

Director of the Hilger Higher Learning Choir and Chattanooga Homeschool Band Tina Holcombe said the Honor Choir serves as a memorable opportunity for students to gain experience and an important understanding of vocal concepts.

“I'm so thankful that Lee University offers this amazing opportunity for students to come together to experience the joy that is singing in an honor choir,” Holcombe said. “The conductors from Lee are outstanding and so very kind to the students—which makes the entire weekend memorable.”

"As a choral music educator, I love for my students to be under the direction of another conductor who will reinforce the concepts of good vocal technique,” Holcombe continued.

For more information on the Lee University Honor Choir, contact LuAnn Holden by phone at (423) 614-8259 or email at honorchoir@leeuniversity.edu.

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