Moultrie Observer

Community

December 16, 2011

Men of Song: Choir offers free concert Monday

MOULTRIE — Long a hotbed of choral music, Colquitt County now claims what few can: a community men’s choir.

Formed in October, the Colquitt County Men’s Choir (CCMC) is open to all male residents of Colquitt County and boasts nearly 40 members from a variety of occupations and backgrounds. While some musical ability is recommended, the choir welcomes men of all skill level and experience. “There is no prerequisite [for membership],” said Travis Kern, director. “If you have a desire to sing and are male, come on.”

CCMC will hold its premiere performance at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, at the First United Methodist Church of Moultrie. Titled “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” the concert will feature a mixture of traditional carols and contemporary Christmas pieces, both religious and secular. Admission is free.

That the community has such a group at all is special. All-male choirs are rare outside of larger cities and nonexistent in towns the size of Moultrie. Choral music is a niche activity in most places, localized in churches and the occasional community chorus. But Colquitt County has always had an ear for choirs, largely because of Colquitt County High School’s choir program.

“Throughout the years, the high school choral program has taught not just the love of singing, but the love of excellent singing,” said Kern, also choral director at C.A. Gray Junior High School. “With that in mind, there are a plethora of trained and talented male singers in our community who form the foundation for this choir [CCMC].”

Doug Hall, CCMC president, agreed. “Moultrie is unique in that there is such widespread support and acceptance of choral music, which makes something like the men's choir possible,” said Hall. “There are hundreds of talented singers in this community, locally trained by a school program that has deep roots.”

“What a disservice to the accomplishments our schools have achieved to have no additional outlet of those talents,” said Hall.

Hall notes many of CCMC’s members are active in local church choirs. As well, most take part in other community choir events, like the biennial performances of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, conducted by Kathy Wright, director of the high school choral program. For years after these concerts, participants asked about forming a standing community chorus.

Those rumblings intensified this past summer when local men came together to perform in the Colquitt County Arts Center’s production of 1776, a musical based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Kern, the play’s director, saw his cast become a choir during the long hours of musical rehearsal. “Following the success of 1776, there was a call for us to keep singing,” said Kern. “The cast members, all male, enjoyed the singing aspect and made a fine choir.”

Kern said forming a more permanent group was the next logical step. Many from that cast committed during the musical’s final days to a men’s choir. To advertise outside of that group, Kern sent emails through the school system and contacted local church music leaders. Singers soon began meeting regularly on Mondays at 7pm in the Willie J. Williams Middle School choir room. Word of mouth attracted new members. Before long, the choir was averaging 30 men per week.

CCMC offers a rare opportunity for the men of Colquitt County. “I see it is a commitment to be part of something bigger, something they would not normally participate in as an individual,” said Hall.

Music, said Kern, is unique in that it can be a lifelong activity. “The multigenerational aspect of this concept is key,” says Kern, noting the value in having men of all ages work together toward a common goal. “The camaraderie that is built between men during this is wonderful to behold.”

Its current membership reflects that diversity and includes D.J. Armstrong, Ronnie Barrett, Clyde Billingsly, Jeron Bridges, Josh Briones, Andrew Christensen, Matthew Clifton, Dale Culp, Ryan Davis, Jimmy Dickerson, Clark Duncan, Daniel Dunn, Allen Edwards, Richard Edwards, Hiller Gammage, Tommy Gibbs, Lesle Gilbert, Jaydon Griner, John Grobe, Doug Hall, Nick Hartley, Bill Jarvis, Jimbo Jarvis, Jimmy Jarvis, Travis Kern, Wes Lewis, Hugh Lofton, Kevin McCorkle, Henry McDonald, John Mitchell, Clay Newton, John Norman, Jimmy Norris, Tatum Shivers, Brandt Sims, Rob Thompkins, Ed Tucker, Steve Webber, and Hayden Willis.

The group hopes to perform two concerts per year, spring and fall, as well as smaller performances around town and at local churches.

For Kern, the group will serve as ambassador for choral music in the community. “Our plans are to make this a permanent part of Colquitt County's culture and to inspire a younger generation of men to continue to sing,” he said.

For more information on CCMC, contact president Doug Hall at dhall@moultrietech.edu or director Travis Kern at tkern@colquitt.k12.ga.us.

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