‘A gift to the community’

Lewis O. Powell IV Staff Writer

September 11, 2013

The Choral Society of West Georgia is gearing up for another musical season.

“These concerts are a gift to the community,” says Bettie Biggs, artistic director of the Choral Society of West Georgia.

The season is composed of four concerts in LaGrange featuring a diverse selection of music. The first concert, “We Gather Together — A Concert of Praise and Thanksgiving,” is a collaboration with the Smithsonian’s New Harmonies Exhibit at the Legacy Museum on Main. The concert, being presented at the First Presbyterian Church, will feature a selection of American folk hymns.

In this concert, the choir will perform with guest organist David Kocsis and a guest narrator. The concert will be held on Nov. 24, at 7 p.m.

The Choral Society’s second concert will be with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 10, at Callaway Auditorium. The two venerable performing organizations — the LSO is celebrating their 25th anniversary — will perform “A Feast of Carols,” a medley of popular Christmas carols arranged by Randol Bass. This concert will also feature John Rutter’s arrangement of “Joy to the World.”

On Feb. 1, the Choral Society will present “My Heart’s in the Highlands,” a concert of music and poetry from Scotland. In collaboration with the Order of the Tartan Scottish American Society, the chorale will help to celebrate the annual Robert Burns Dinner at Highlands Country Club. Highland dancers will also be performing.

Bel Canto, the women’s ensemble of the Choral Society, will be featured on April 12 as part of a wine-tasting afternoon concert called “Wine, Women and Song.” A guest vintner will be on hand to talk about the wines being sampled and Bel Canto will perform a tribute to Broadway.

In a fifth concert, the Choral Society has been invited to appear in combination with other choirs to premier René Clausen’s “Festival Te Deum” in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.

According to Biggs, Clausen is the “preeminent American choral composer and conductor.” A professor of music at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., Clausen is known for setting many poems by American poets as well as settings of religious texts. Biggs did two internships under Clausen and has worked with him in a number of workshops, thus bringing about this extraordinary invitation.

The Choral Society of West Georgia was founded about five years ago by Bettie Biggs. Formerly the director of the Lafayette Chorale under the purview of the Lafayette Society for the Performing Arts, Biggs “made a decision to be independent and find greener pastures.”

The group is a 501 (c)(3) organization consisting of 45-55 volunteer singers from throughout the community. For further information, see the Choral Society’s website,