Fall 2023 Performances Summary
In April 2023, Agnes Scott’s faculty voted on the creation of a new major program, the Creative Arts major, to encompass multiple existing and new academic areas. In order to explore these new and refreshed areas of study, over the next few months we will be releasing a series of blog posts guest-written by Agnes Scott professors about their areas of concentration with the Creative Arts. This is the final post of the Creative Arts series: extracurricular activities Collegiate Chorale & Sotto Voce.
Collegiate Chorale and Sotto Voce ensembles began the fall semester with the first-ever Day of Treble workshop for high school singers on September 14, 2023. Around 60 students from three high schools (The Galloway School, The Darlington School and Decatur High School) joined ASC Professor and Director of Choral Activities Rebecca Duren for a day focused on choral technique for upper-register voices. Professor Wooyoung Kwon supported the day’s activities at the piano while throughout the day, small breakout groups participated in vocal coaching sessions with Professor Dawn-Marie James.
After lunch in Evans Dining Hall, Collegiate Chorale members joined the Day of Treble students for singing, Q&A about life at the college, and a micro-concert that featured Eleanor Daley’s “Lake Isle of Innisfree” and an arrangement of “Nine Hundred Miles” by Rollo Dilworth.
The day ended with a microconcert and with students saying they hope to participate again next year.
In late November, students learned the identity of the beloved but unnamed dignitary for whom they had been preparing two special choral arrangements: Jeffrey Cobb’s “America” and Susan LeBarr’s “Gather at the River.” Former First Lady of both Georgia and the United States Rosalynn Carter requested that Agnes Scott’s Collegiate Chorale perform at her funeral when she planned her final arrangements years in advance of her passing at 96 years of age.
When the sad news of her death on November 19, 2023 reached friends and admirers at the college, it initiated the long-established protocol that brought Agnes Scott singers into action, led by Professor Duren along with Professor Kwon and fellow ASC music faculty Qiao Chen Solomon and Barney Culver on violin and cello, respectively. The event received a write up in the December 10 Sunday arts section of the Traverse City Record Eagle, including an interview with ASC Chorale member and librarian Leah Grace Roberts.
ASC Chorale performed at the first of three services celebrating the life of Rosalynn Carter, whose activism and humanitarian legacy will resonate far into the future. For Agnes Scott singers, including 10 alumni who were able to return to their alma mater for the extraordinary occasion, the experience was a powerful one.
The students capped off the busy semester, which included participation in the Intercollegiate Treble Choir Festival on November 14, and by singing fifty minutes of music for their final fall concert, which featured Professor Kwon and Atlanta harpist Jennifer Betzer.
The Creative Arts Major with a Music Concentration includes at least 4 semesters in one of the college’s signature ensembles, including Collegiate Chorale and Sotto Voce. (These groups are also open to all Agnes Scott students by audition). Other courses for the concentration include a global music appreciation course, at least two semesters in music theory, music history, and at least six semesters of applied lessons in a specific instrumental area or voice. In addition, students pursue four upper level interdisciplinary courses, beginning with Observation and Reflection in the Creative Arts, and an additional set of three creative arts electives.
Dr. Tracey E.W. Laird, the Harry L., Corrine Bryant and Cottie Beverly Slade Professor of Creative Arts (Music), is an author or editor of six books, the latest in a coffee table format titled Dolly Parton: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life (Quarto Press, released October 10, 2023). Her perspective on the twenty-first century concluded the 4th and Fiftieth Anniversary edition of Bill Malone’s seminal Country Music, U.S.A. (University of Texas Press, 2018).
Her courses include Musical Elements in Global Perspective, Issues and Methods of Ethnomusicology, and Creative Processes and Practices. Other courses explore intersections of popular music, jazz, or Western classical genres with other disciplines (e.g., physics or neuroscience) or with the everyday questions of race, gender, religion, and politics that shape our daily lives. In recent years, two courses have included online collaborations (known as COIL courses) with a faculty member at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates, resulting in miniature film documentaries exploring cross-cultural perspectives on music and meaning. Since the beginning of Agnes Scott’s SUMMIT program, she has led Journeys courses for first-year students to Navajo Nation and to the Sea Islands.