Ladies of Lee chosen to perform at state conference
Ladies of Lee, a a 60-member all-female music ensemble, has been chosen to perform at the annual Tennessee Music Education Association (TMEA) conference in Nashville April 6-8, 2017.
Ladies is the only collegiate choir that was chosen to perform and the second musical ensemble from the university that has been chosen to perform at the TMEA. Chorale Union, a collection of music majors and non-music majors, represented Lee five years ago at the conference.
Jonathan Rodgers, the director of Ladies of Lee and assistant professor of choral music, expressed his surprise at an all-women’s ensemble being chosen.
“It says something that they selected only one collegiate choir and that choir was a women’s choir, which is unique in our field,” Rodgers said. “Often there’s preference always given to the ‘mixed choirs’ which have men and women. Typically, they get more recognition and have a more prominent voice at these kind of things.”
Sophomore Kaley Barrett has been a part of Ladies for three semesters and will be traveling with the group to Nashville.
“To be able to represent an all-women’s choir is kind of an honor,” Barrett said. “It shows people that even though we don’t have men in the choir, we can still sound great and we can still be chosen and just because we don’t have men doesn’t mean we are less.”
Being chosen for this conference started with Rodgers, a member of the National Association for Music Education, submitting an audition packet and not knowing what to expect.
The packet included recordings from the past two years, a bio on both the choir as a unit and himself as the conductor. The recordings made their way to a selection committee that makes decisions in a “blind format," meaning that they select based solely on the quality of what they hear.
“I had no idea what to expect or how big of a long shot it was.” Rodgers said. “The neat thing is that the people that got us selected to perform are the past two years’ choirs. They won’t really see the results or recognition of their work, but we have so many new girls who are very excited about it, the whole choir is really ecstatic.”
Sophomore Cate Boyle has been in the group for two years and was able to participate in one of the recordings that were sent.
“We were really excited to find out we were going. It was really cool because the songs [in the recordings] were songs we had been working on for a long time, and we put a lot of work into them,” Boyle said.
The TMEA conference will also be one of senior Christine Cornelius’ last performances with Ladies.
“I think it’s really an exciting opportunity for the choir, and not only a great opportunity but also a great accomplishment,” Cornelius said. “It’s exciting to be a part of Ladies during this time.”
Preparation for the event will begin soon after winter break, as Ladies will be performing a 40-minute program there.
Rodgers said that the first step will be selecting the program pieces, memorizing them and then performing them at events leading up to TMEA, such as the spring tour.
“I hope to have some guests come in and give some critiques and feedback,” Rodgers said. “I want to make it more of a collaborative effort from the School of Music front.”
Ladies of Lee will be recording again in the spring, and Rodgers said that being chosen for the TMEA event is fueling him to apply to more rigorous and selective conferences.
“This is a good launching point for us to get prepared to do that in the future,” Rodgers said.