William Skoog, conductor
Rhodes Singers originated in 1937 under the direction of Professor Louis Nicholas (‘34), who organized the first choral ensemble at Rhodes College in 1934. Burnet C. Tuthill, co-founder of the National Association of the Schools of Music (NSAM), formalized choral music performance with the establishment of the Rhodes Singers as the concert choir for the college. Rhodes Singers perform many concerts annually, tour throughout the United States, and tour internationally regularly. In 2010, they performed in the Rome International Choral Festival, and performed concert tours in Italy and France. They recently performed, by invitation, at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for the Presidents’ Day Choral Festival, and in concert, by adjudicated invitation, at the National Cathedral. They have also toured Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana in recent years. In 2015, the choir performed a concert tour across the Eastern Seaboard, including performances in Vienna Virginia, Danbury and Norwalk CT, Concord and Boston MA, Amherst and Manchester MA, with a keystone performance, and by vetted invitation, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC. This year is a “Tennessee Triptych,” featuring concerts in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and Collierville, TN.
Rhodes Singers is a select, auditioned mixed choir of 43 Singers, and serves as a flagship ensemble for Rhodes College. They perform a variety of mostly small-form choral works, in genres from virtually all style periods. The theme for this year’s concert tour is “Music for Healing.” Our society and world has experienced intense and horrific incidents of violence and terror in recent years; our local and regional communities, likewise, continue to see acts of violence. Music surely is a great instrument for healing and for building community. That is why this year, in light of those harsh realities, our tour program features the theme of healing.
Music in this program includes a setting of Kyrie Eleison, from Memorial by Rene Clausen. This work was written for the victims of 9-11, and includes texts in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and English, all pleading for mercy and peace. The concert also includes a meditative song for healing of our world entitled As I Walk the Silent Earth, by Thomas LaVoy, a movement from Rachmaninov’s Vespers done in memory of those killed in a Russian jetliner, Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine in honor of those recently slain in Paris, an Estonian work entitled Su Rahva, by Timothy C. Takach, written for Rhodes Singers on a commission. The concert rounds out with a Gospel song by Caldrich and Ivory, entitled John the Revelator (to heal the sick and disabled), and the spiritual Hear My Prayer, by Moses Hogan. It is our desire that this concert will offer healing of a personal and societal nature for our world, and provide a message of hope and comfort for all who are receptive to its much-needed message.