Choral Society of West Georgia show to give praise, thanks in LaGrange concert
Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 14, 2015
LaGRANGE — A community tradition is back with an inspirational and unique start to the holiday season.
The Choral Society of West Georgia will lift up their voices for the annual We Gather Together Concert of Thanksgiving, Praise and Remembrance.
Choral Society Artistic Director Bettie Biggs said the performance is also the start of a yearlong celebration as the choir commemorates its 10th anniversary.
“This concert is reflective of us being thankful for being together for 10 years,” she explained. “Almost every Thursday night, for two hours, the choir members practice and give of their talents — and none of the singers get paid. Everyone volunteers … it creates a unique bond … and to create a concert of this caliber is substantial. It takes a high level of commitment.”
While the hard work and meaning behind the performance remain the same, Biggs said she added the word “remembrance” to the title of the concert to honor folks in communities across the country who lost their lives in senseless tragedies.
“So many people this year have violently lost their lives,” Biggs explained. “I felt like I needed to honor those who not only serve our country through the military, but those who were violently and unexpectedly taken from us this year … like the shooting inside the church in Charleston. People doing everyday things, in their everyday lives that were taken from us.”
Former Troup County Superior Court Judge Allen Keeble will be the guest narrator for this year’s concert. He will give reflections throughout the performance, one of which will include reading a portion of United States President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 making Thanksgiving an official American holiday.
Biggs said after each reflection, the choir will sing a song that coincides with the thoughtful meditation. She stated the concert is a time for the whole community to take time to relax, rejoice and reflect on what is most important in their own lives.
“I hope people consider all that we have in our country and in our community, and all that we have been given … we are very fortunate,” Biggs replied. “I hope people are thankful and proud to be an American.”
She plans on providing a soothing and patriotic environment through songs like the theme from the movie “Schindler’s List” and Rene Clausen’s “Kyrie” from Memorial — a tribute written for the victims of the September 11th attacks on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.
Biggs said Kyrie is sung in Latin, English and Hebrew: three languages at the same time.
She said she will end the concert with a rousing performance of Irving Berlin’s version of “God Bless America.”
“What most people don’t know is that Irving Berlin wrote that during World War I,” Biggs explained. “But one of his colleagues told him it wasn’t very good, so he filed it away. Then, on the advent of World War II, he pulled it back out, re-worked it, and it became a huge hit … At one time there was even a movement to make it our national anthem. But Berlin said, ‘No. Our national anthem is ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Let it be.’”
Biggs said she will also have guest performances by David Kocsis, organist; Sam Lee, violinist; Marcia Hunt, cellist; C.J. Johnson, double bass; Brian Kempson, percussion; Le’Patrick Browning, percussion; Eve McKibben, choral society associate accompanist; Cindy Brown, choral society accompanist; and Jalen Smith, baritone soloist.
The annual We Gather Together Concert of Thanksgiving, Praise and Remembrance is Nov. 21 at 7 p.m., and Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m.
The performance will take place at the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Broad and Lewis streets.
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets may buy them from any member of the Choral Society of West Georgia, Plum Southern or the Marketplace on Lafayette Square. The cost is $15.
People can also buy tickets at the door to the concert. The price is $20.