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Vol State to host collaborative Spring Choral Concert


By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting its annual spring choral concert April 24 at 3:00 p.m.

The event is free and will be held on the main campus in the Wemyss Auditorium, located in Caudill Hall.

This year’s event is titled “And This Shall Be for Music” and features the Vol State Singers, directed by Nancy Slaughter, and the Portland High School Ensemble, directed by Ben Warren.

Music will be performed by Ben Troxler (piano); Yvonne Kendall (flute, piccolo, recorder); Mingzhe Wang (recorder); Mitsutoshi Inaba (recorder); Nancy Slaughter (recorder); and Derek Greene (percussion).

Since the production is being recorded, the event is not suitable for children under 12-years-old.

For the past five years, Slaughter has played for Portland High School’s musicals.

She said she approached Warren with the idea for this collaboration and he too thought it was a good idea.

“The Portland High School students are a very nice group of kids,” said Slaughter.

“They work very hard and are really quite lovely and smart.

“Mr. Warren is wonderful to work with, because he and I think the same way musically,” added Slaughter. “He’s very good at what he does.”

This is the second year that the two groups have come together. Slaughter said that last year’s concert was a success.

“Our goal for next year is to add a third and/or fourth high school, so we’d like to get Gallatin and Hendersonville.

“We are starting it out to try to get people to join us so we can do major works, maybe with a string quartet or a small orchestra,” added Slaughter.

The two singing groups will sing six pieces together, the Vol State Singers will sing five separate pieces, the recorder consort will play three Renaissance pieces, and the PHS Ensemble will sing two separate pieces.

“Most of the concert is in English. There will be two songs in Italian.

“Some are from the Renaissance, Baroque and some are written by contemporary composers—so they’re modern,” included Slaughter.

Slaughter said that she was letting the students have a break on Monday (a reward for their hard work and dedication) because they were already prepared and ready for the concert.

Then, they will run through it on Wednesday and have the dress rehearsal on Saturday.

Warren said that the Portland students have been getting ready for this since January.

“One of the biggest challenges is that my ensemble singers, coming into January have not sung together as a whole unit, so in addition to learning the concert repertoire—we have to build a quality choral tone and blend,” added Warren.

Warren said that he and Slaughter will each conduct a few pieces.

“This gives her students the opportunity to sing under me, and my students the opportunity to sing under her.

“We each bring differing approaches to singing and choral directing, and it’s valuable for students of all ages and mastery level to have exposure to that,” included Warren.

He said that the PHS students are excited about this opportunity at Vol State.

“One of my primary goals, since taking over as choral director at Portland High School four years ago, is putting my students out in the community to serve as ambassadors for PHS,” included Warren.

“I want people to see that not only do we have great performing talent here, but we also have excellent student citizens.

“Nancy Slaughter and I are thrilled to collaborate and create a unique bridge between our students coming out of PHS and Vol State, and hope to expand our endeavor to more Sumner County high schools in the future,” added Warren.

Warren and Slaughter have the same ideals and goals for this purpose.

“I’d like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Vol State for hosting this event,” said Warren.

“There are great things happening in Sumner County schools in cooperation with Vol State and their higher education resources.

“Music education is very strong in Sumner County and we aspire to keep it so, while producing high caliber young musicians,” added Warren.

Kat Lambert, a student in the Vol State Singers, said she enjoys this collaboration because of the people that are involved in it.

“Everyone in the group is so encouraging, and kind. We all work the entire semester to achieve our goal to sound good as a whole group,” Lambert said.

“People should come [to the concert] because it shows support for our music department, but it also exposes people to different styles of music.

“It really gives you an appreciation for how difficult the classical genre is,” said Lambert.

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