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MSA Chorale fills Lampton with music

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / MSA Music Director, Patton Rice leads the MSA Chorale – made up of a total of 32 students across multiple disciplines within the school – in practice of selections of songs they will perform Friday night at the Fall Concert in Lampton Hall.

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / MSA Music Director, Patton Rice leads the MSA Chorale – made up of a total of 32 students across multiple disciplines within the school – in practice of selections of songs they will perform Friday night at the Fall Concert in Lampton Hall.

Wednesday evening, Lampton Hall was lit with the voices of the MSA Chorale as they prepared for their Chorale Fall Concert on Friday.

The concert will feature a collection of music from the students’ repertoire, or music they’ve worked on all semester, and songs Music Director Patton Rice calls “holiday fun.” This includes songs ranging from a South African selection rich in percussion to favorites like Joy To The World and Carol of the Bells.

The Choral is made up of 27 music majors from the school and five student singers from other disciplines. Rice said he’s always happy to have students from outside the discipline who are interested in singing and performing as part of the Chorale.

Some of their selections from the show include a spiritual arrangement comprised of a medley of “Wade In the Water” and “Down By The Riverside” entitled “Take Me to The Water.” Other selections include “Word Was God” by Rosephanye Powell – who teaches at Auburn University – and “I Dream a World” by André Thomas. Thomas, the coordinator of Choral Music at Florida State – was influenced by a Langston Hughes poem.

“Then there’s one song students from the school has sang since the beginning,” Rice said about the song “Sing Me to Heaven” by Daniel Gawtrop. “The text just speaks to people who love music.”

Rice said when he first started teaching at the school the students brought him the song that had been taught by the previous teacher and asked if he could keep it in their repertoire.

“It has some of the most beautiful harmonies you’ll ever hear,” Rice said.

His intentions and hopes for the song mirror that of his experiences with an a capella piece called “America” which the students will perform as well at Friday’s concert.

“It’s great to have pieces that when alumni can come they can join in,” Rice said about the students’ love of “Sing Met to Heaven”. He said at his alma mater, when the choir would sing “America” there would eventually be more alumni singing than choir members.

Rice said alumni do come back to visit, during performances and in other capacities. He told the story of the school’s recent MSA Experience Day, which brought back alumni and 2014 Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray for which the choir suggested they sing for her a song composed by Rice’s 14 year-old daughter, Hannah. The song is entitled *** and will also be sung Friday night.

Rice also raved of an alumnus, Shemela Goodloe, who recently graduated with a master’s in vocal performance from LSU and sang at the funeral of Linda Crozier whose family served as a host family for Shemela while she was a student at MSA.

“She sang ‘He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands,’ and it was wonderful,” Rice said.

Rice said he tries to create an atmosphere as supportive as possible because when they get out of high school it can get really competitive, and everyone may not be as supportive.

“The students are really good about pulling for each other,” he said. “And it’s really neat when alumni can come back and share their experiences with the students.”

Rice shares that the Chorale Fall Concert will be last time, the senior choir members will perform “Sing Me To Heaven” with their peers, and there’s bound to be tears shed, maybe including his own.

The Choral Fall Concert will start at 7 p.m. in Lampton Hall on the campus of the Mississippi School of the Arts.