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Choral Society to host homecoming concert

The Choral Society of West Georgia will present ‘A Homecoming Concert With Friends of the Choral Society’ on March 26, virtually, for free.

“The Choral Society Board of Directors and I have had discussions on sponsoring a “Homecoming Concert” for several years and had begun to move further with developing and implementing such a project,” said Artistic Director Betty Biggs. “It was our intention to gather and host as many of these outstanding professional musicians together in LaGrange in a live concert venue. We had already begun discussions with several of them and the response had been overwhelmingly positive. While the LaGrange and Troup County area has a wealth of local talent, there is also a wealth of talent throughout the country and the world who also call LaGrange and Troup County their home. They are wonderful ambassadors for our community.”

A special tribute will honor the career of baritone David Malis. The concert will also feature a performance by Choral Society of West Georgia accompanist and artistic collaborator Andrew Harry.

The musicians in this project are spread out all over the country, including California, Louisiana, New York City, Florida, Atlanta, and Texas.

Among the performers born and raised in LaGrange/Troup County are:

  • Dr. Oliver Nathan Greene, Jr., Baritone/Choral Conductor
  • Michael Hendrick, Professional Operatic Tenor – Baton Rouge, La.
  • Dr. Jonathan Pilkington, Professional Tenor – Atlanta, Ga.
  • David Malis, Metropolitan Opera BaritoneNew York City, N.Y.
  • Michael Stiggers, Broadway Singer/Actor – New York City, N.Y.
  • Ashley Smith, Jazz Vocalist – Garland, Texas
  • Angelyn Traylor, Professional pianist – Orlando, Fla.

Biggs said that each musician sent in two to three different performance video recordings.

“The submissions will be edited and produced into a concert format,” Biggs said. “All performers were asked to include brief but important introductory comments as to the impact of how their early arts education influenced their decision to pursue a professional career in the performing arts.”

Last summer, the Choral Society was awarded a 2020 Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA)Project Grant.

Initially, this was to be used for the fifth annual West Georgia Choral Arts Festival scheduled for March 2020 at Callaway Auditorium. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert was canceled just three days before the scheduled performance.

“The GCA allowed all recipients of the award to adjust their original plans in order to accommodate the situation and still be able to use the funding from the grant,” Biggs said. “I took the initial concept of the Homecoming Concert and developed a virtual concert format featuring seven highly successful artists who were born, raised and educated in the LaGrange and Troup County area. All seven were exceptionally supportive and immediately accepted our invitation to share their selected performances with the organization.”

Biggs said that all of the performers spent their developing years in the area.

“Growing up, they sang in church, school, and community choirs, played in middle/high school bands, played in hand bell choirs, and participated in school and community theatre,” Biggs said.

“Each and every single one of these musicians in their introductory remarks comment on how these early experiences as well as the teachers they worked with impacted their lives in such a profound way that they chose the daunting and challenging profession of becoming professional musicians, artists, teachers and performers.”

The “Homecoming Concert” is the third event of the 2020-21 concert season.

The concert link will be available through www.choralsocietyofwestgeorgia.org. For more information on the concert, call (706) 882-2734 or email choralsocietyofwestgeorgia@gmail.com.