The Sons of Lafayette Men’s Choir presents its holiday concert, “Christmas with the Sons,” Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:30 in the afternoon at First Presbyterian Church in LaGrange.
The 32-member choir is directed by Loren Pinkerman, with organist David Kocsis and pianist Eve McKibben. Violinist Callie Hammond also will join the group for two selections and a solo.
Sunday’s concert will be Pinkerman’s last appearance as the group’s official director. After 12 years, he is retiring from the position.
“I want to be leaving the group on the high side,” Pinkerman said. “The last two years have especially been tremendous for the choir. We have performed at the Ritz Carlton, and the Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta as well as taking part in the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral festival in the spring of 2011.”
Pinkerman grew up on his family’s Nebraska ranch and studied music at high school and college. Pinkerman holds music degrees from Westmar College and Colorado State University.
At Colorado State University, he worked as a graduate assistant teaching applied voice and conducting the university’s men’s choir. He also studied music at the Rene Clausen Choral School at Concordia College and at the International Choral Conductors’ Workshop in Varna, Bulgaria.
After teaching choral music at the college and high school levels, Pinkerman’s interests shifted and led him to acquire a Masters of Library Science from Indiana University. He has held library positions at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Auburn University, Wofford College and Erskine College and Seminary. In 1998, Pinkerman moved to LaGrange when he accepted the position of library director at LaGrange College.
Before the Sons of Lafayette were formed, Pinkerman first was the director of music at First Presbyterian Church. It was then that accompanist Gerald Becham suggested to Pinkerman that he should try forming a male choir. Retiring from the director’s position, Pinkerman worked relentlessly to build the Sons of Lafayette Male Choir to the highly regarded, internationally recognized group that it is today.
“All of the men who have sung with Loren have a deep appreciation for the way he has worked with them and the dedication he has had for the choir for all of these years,” said Harold Tarpley, president of the choir.
“I have really enjoyed my years in SOL (Sons of Lafayette),” said choir member Louis Lester. “Loren leads by example - a great voice and talent. He has enhanced everyone’s musical ability. We will miss him.”
“I hope through this last concert we are able to express to Loren how much his efforts have meant to our local choral community, particularly male choral singing. SOL was not only his idea, but it succeeded solely due to his tireless efforts, boundless energy and prodigious talent,” said choir member Jeff Todd.
“While I haven’t been able to sing with the group for the last few years, singing under Loren again for the Christmas concert has been a real joy…particularly as our son, Marshall (LHS freshman), is singing as well. It has been a top father-son experience,” Todd said.
Although Pinkerman is by no means ready to retire from his position at LaGrange College, by retiring from the director’s position of the choir, Pinkerman plans to spend more time with his wife, Patricia, and their four children and grandchildren.
“I have to thank the public, people from everywhere and especially here in LaGrange, for supporting the choir for all these years, we have been blessed,” Pinkerman said. “Without an audience, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. For 11 years, Gerald Becham was the accompanist for the choir; I thank him for his service.”
Pinkerman also said the support of all of the families of singers over the past 12 years have been extremely important to the success of the organization.
This January, R. Wayne Woodson will take the director’s position of the Sons of Lafayette Male Choir. Woodson is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta where he majored in voice performance and conducting. His graduate work includes studies at New England Conservatory, University of South Florida and Georgia College.
Woodson is known as a recitalist around the country and has extensive experience in both group performance and directing. Woodson will be introduced at this week’s “Christmas with the Sons” performances by being the guest conductor for one of their pieces.
“We are looking forward to Woodson being our new director,” Tarpley said.
Tickets may be purchased before the concerts at Plum Southern or at Hill Street House for $12 each. Tickets may also be purchased at the door, right before each of the concerts for $15 each.