GODFREY — Since the days of Monticello — the first all-female higher-learning institution west of the Allegheny Mountains — vocal music flourished on its campus and continues to this day in the larger regional arts culture.
Lewis and Clark Community College’s Concert Choir and its Limited Edition ensemble keep up the vocal tradition of song, both groups based on the former campus of Monticello Female Seminary. The school later became Monticello College, remaining a women’s college, until L&C moved onto the campus in the early 1970s.
“A concert choir has existed on the campus ever since a campus has been here,” said L&C’s Concert Choir Director Susan Parton Stanard, a music professor who now is in her 16th season at the school and the overall director of the college’s choral ensembles and vocal studies. “It’s always been a part of the curriculum on this campus, always very valued.”
The Concert Choir includes singers from the community, performing at least one public concert per semester, usually on campus. In the fall, the Concert Choir performs a fall concert, as well as a holiday concert; in spring the choir performs one concert.
“The choir is made up of residents, as well as students. No audition is required. All you have to do is love to sing,” Parton Stanard said. “We have singers who read music and those who, for them, it’s the first time they ever did this. That’s where the scope of townspeople and students come in handy — it’s great educationally. Early on, usually in a church choir, young singers hear seasoned singers and that gave a great model to follow.”
The Concert Choir’s spring concert, “Lights, Action, Music!,” starts at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 23, in the Benjamin Godfrey Memorial Chapel on L&C’s campus. The first half of the program is Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria.” One of the great composers of the Baroque era, Vivaldi used the “Gloria” from the Ordinary of the mass as a concert piece unto itself. Soloists in the Vivaldi piece are choir members soprano Mary Abbott and alto Celeste Glenn. L&C Professor Teresa Crane will accompany the Concert Choir on piano.
The second half of the spring concert program features something completely different with music from stage and screen. It includes such selections as “Lullaby of Broadway” and “Forty-Second Street,” “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music,” “Oklahoma” from “Oklahoma,” “The Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” and “What I Did for Love” from “A Chorus Line.“
The Concert Choir, which can be joined for non-credit, is taking registration now for the fall semester. The choir schedule follows the school calendar. The evening session rehearses at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays; and, a daytime session, made up generally of students, but for which anyone can register, starts at 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“So, with each section, we do two mirrored rehearsals; then, for concerts, we do one dress rehearsal together,” Parton Stanard explained. “We’ve got singers from all over, who drive from Staunton and all the way from Greene County.”
For non-credit, the Concert Choir cost $60 for an entire semester, in which Parton Stanard provides everything needed, including music and folders. Residents and students interested in registering can go through L&C’s music office by calling 618-468-4731.
“There’s always been a choir. All I did was add the smaller show-type group,” Parton Stanard noted.