Dr. Gregory Fuller, director of choral activities at The University
of Southern Mississippi, has many reasons for embarking on a whirlwind
tour of three states in two days with more than 150 students. Mostly,
it will be to test the grit of his singers and teachers-to-be.
Chorale, the university's premiere touring ensemble, and the Concert
Choir will divide into five chamber groups of 20 to 35 members each
to perform a variety of popular selections at five schools per day
Oct. 16 and 17. These schools are mainly in the Gulf Coast regions
of Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
my interview process for this position several years ago, I got
a strong impression from the director of the School of Music and
the dean of the college at that time that they wanted more local
and regional exposure of our choirs," Fuller said. "The
chorale had toured abroad and had recently performed in New York,
but the program has never taken on a venture of going into so many
high school classrooms in such a short period of time."
the key to recruitment success, according to Fuller, not only for
the choral program but also for the School of Music in general.
For more than 50 years, the school has regularly sent its ensembles,
students and faculty to schools and public venues for recruiting
and community service purposes.
prospective students have no university preference, but are simply
looking for a school that fits their needs," Fuller said. "They
are looking for a place where they can be active as a major or nonmajor
musician. Southern Miss realizes this aspect of recruitment, and
it is vital for us to demonstrate our capabilities and attributes
to these students. You never know who you may reach."
A tour of this
speed and magnitude takes a lot of commitment, not only for Fuller,
but also for his graduate students in training to be choral teachers.
possibly be at each school for each performance during the two-day
tour," Fuller said. "As such, this is putting a lot of
responsibility not only on my singers, but on my graduate students.
I have assigned graduate choral students to lead and coordinator
a chamber group.
the process, each will learn first-hand about traveling with a group,
setting itineraries - and sticking to them - and contacting teachers,
all areas they will need to know how to facilitate as future choir
directors. I can watch them and guide them to make sure they get
it done efficiently."
This tour not
only involves visits to high schools, but the Southern Chorale will
give two other public performances, one in Laurel Oct. 14 and the
other in Gulfport Oct. 19. Then, on Oct. 23, the Southern Chorale
and the Concert Choir will give a "home" concert at 7:30
p.m. at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg.
The two choirs
will perform separate programs and then join for the finale of Arnold
Freed's "Gloria." The Southern Chorale will perform works
that both challenge and entertain the audience. Two works by the
prolific composer Jean Berger, who recently passed away, will open
the concert as a tribute to his vast contribution to choral literature.
Also featured on the program will be Howard Helvey's "The Silent,"
Norman Dello Joio's "Come to Me, My Love," and a lesser
known gospel piece that is enjoying a mass resurgence in choral
programs across the United States, "John the Revelator."
Silent' is a brand new piece by Dello Joio," Fuller explained.
"It is an unpublished work, but the composer is a good friend
of mine and has agreed to let us perform it on this program. The
piece will be published in the spring 2004.
'Gloria' from 'Dixit Dominus' is a very athletic movement that is
a tremendously difficult piece to perform. This one-movement work
also will open our December concert with the university's Symphony
Orchestra in an evening of Baroque choral masterworks, including
'Dixit Dominus' and Handel's oratorio 'Messiah.'"
The Oct. 23
concert is free and open to the public. Early seating is recommended
as the sanctuary fills quickly. For more information about the tour
or concert, call the choral activities office at (601) 266-4092.