Berea College Choir Tours Appalachia

The Berea College (Ky.) Concert Choir is beginning its annual performance tour March 10 in Charleston, West Virginia. Their concert will begin at noon at the Charleston Marriott Town Center. Additional performances are on March 11 at 3 p.m. at Asbury Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Va., on March 12 at 7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, Va., and on March 13 at 8 p.m. at Front Royal Skyline High School. The group will perform a wide repertoire of both sacred and secular choral music.

This group of diverse and talented students continues a Berea College tradition that began in 1949 when the group prepared inspirational pieces for the college’s weekly chapel service. For more than 50 years, the choir has given inspirational performances at the college and for audiences in the Appalachian region and overseas.

Berea College Concert Choir members represent the true diversity of Berea College in all its aspects—ethnic background, race, nationality, and major. The choir performs pieces in several languages chosen from a variety historical periods, including anthems, motets, masses, folk songs, spirituals, popular music, and music theatre selections. These students were competitively selected and perform several concerts each year in addition to their commitment toward their academics and work in the Berea College labor program.

The conductor of the choir is Dr. Stephen Bolster. Under his direction the Berea College Concert Choir and Chamber Singers have toured annually in the eastern United States, and have performed in several cities in China in the summer of 2007 in Italy and Switzerland in the summer of 2002, and in central and eastern Europe in 1994.

The choirs have been featured in two Christmas specials for educational television that were aired throughout the mid-South, and in a Christmas special concert that was broadcast throughout the 2010 Christmas Season on the Kentucky Educational Television network. The Concert Choir has also performed several times for the Kentucky Music Educators Association annual In-Service Conference, and has twice performed at the American Negro Spiritual Competition in Cincinnati’s famous Music Hall.

Dr. Bolster is the Mary W. McGaw Endowed Chair of Music at Berea College, where he has taught for 31 years. Professor of Music and former Chairperson of the Music Department, he conducts the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and College Community Choir and teaches voice, vocal methods, conducting, and music literature. Bolster holds music degrees from Dartmouth College (A.B. Music, 1973), the University of North Carolina (M.M. Choral Arts, 1977), and the University of Colorado (D.M.A. Literature and Performance of Choral Music, 1980) and conducted major choral organizations at each school before joining the Berea faculty in 1980. In 1989, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati.

Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Appalachia, Berea College Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, music, Travel

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.