Choral society shows patriotic pride
Published 11:28 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The Lincoln County Choral Society will hold its second performance, “A Tribute to America,” at 7 p.m. June 29 at First United Methodist Church. The patriotic concert will feature Americana music from the beginning of the nation’s history to the present.
Jens Oliva, artistic director for the LCCS, has been leading the chorus in two-hour weekly practices in preparation.
“It’s coming along quite nicely,” Oliva said. “The choir members are really excited about the concert. They feel like it’s a really, really good concert that people will enjoy, and I tend to agree. The excitement from the choir is spreading to me, so I’m getting excited about it as well.”
Oliva has been a music director for going on 16 years. His wife Laura Oliva said Jens spearheaded the creation of the LCCS in August 2014. The first performance at Christmas was so well received, Laura said, that the only place to sit in the packed church was the very last row. She said they have printed 400 tickets, expecting a similar turnout.
“Brookhaven is such an artistic community, having a choral society here just fit,” Laura said. “Most of the people we have here are in a church choir, they teach choir or music, they do little theater — it just made perfect sense to have a choral society where they could sing good, challenging, fun music.”
“We started in August last year, and it was just because I’d been around so many people that sing and sing so well, I thought it’d be great to start a community choir to sing different things other than just church music,” Jens said. “So if they’re part of a small church they can be part of a bigger choir. That was my intention, and just to have fun singing.”
Fun as it may be, the choir sounds much more polished and accomplished than just a fun hobby for a group of 35 or 40 music-lovers. This could be attributed to the dedicated attitude of the choir and the talent base it draws from. Choir members Bill Boerner and Lawrie Gulley said there are a number of talented voices in the group.
“It’s a unique opportunity for anyone who enjoys singing with a choir to sing with such excellent talent – I’m just trying to keep up,” Boerner said. “There a lot of talented voices in the chorus that you wouldn’t find [everywhere]. There are five or six choir directors who were music majors in college, and then you’ve got people like Lawrie who’ve played piano all their life.”
“It’s a joy to be in a choir of fellow musicians,” Gulley said, “because the direction is so much more easily understood. Everybody here is a trained musician one way or another.”
The Olivas, Gulley and Boerner all praised the talents of Steve Russell, the pianist/accompanist for the LCCS and pianist at First United Methodist, as well as the voice of Patton Rice.
“He’s probably the most impressive baritone I’ve ever heard in person,” Boerner said.
Rice is the choral director at Mississippi School of the Arts and will take over for Jens as director of the LCCS after he moves to Florida later this year.
“I’m glad that I’m able to hand it off because it is something that’s been very positive for the community and people really enjoy doing this,” Jens said. “And to find someone to be able to continue it was a hope of mine. I’m very happy the choir will continue, that’s what it’s for. It’s for the community, it wasn’t for me.”
Tickets to the LCCS performance of “A Tribute to America,” are $5 and can be purchased at the door on the night of the event. Money raised goes toward the price of music and a trip for the LCCS to visit New York City in January.