Choir gets big sendoff to Washington, D.C.
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jan 18, 2013 | 1902 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lee University Festival Choir
Festival Choir vocalists stand on risers on stage and the Lee University Wind Ensemble is in the foreground Thursday evening in the Conn Center at Lee University. The 200-member choir is scheduled to perform Monday during the ceremonial inauguration of President Barack Obama.  Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
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“Wow!” was the first thought Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland had after learning the Lee University Festival Choir would perform at the presidential inauguration Monday in Washington, D.C.

A standing ovation added an exclamation point to the mayor’s thought Thursday evening after the choir performed a free community concert. The 200-voice choir, accompanied by the Lee University Wind Ensemble, performed for about that many in the audience who went out in the cold weather.

Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn thanked the audience for “coming out on a truly lousy night,” weatherwise.

The choir sang nine patriotic or religious songs, with the exception of “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” The Mac Huff arrangement of the regional classic took advantage of the range of voices as the choo choo chugged across the stage. The audience waved flags during the Wind Ensemble’s rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The choir departed for Washington this morning in five buses. Members are scheduled to arrive at their hotel in Silver Spring, Md., this evening. The students will have time to explore the area around the hotel before curfew.

Conn said performing at the presidential inauguration is a great honor for the community, the university and school of music.

“The wind ensemble is such a superb performing organization, so we thought we would invite them to play tonight,” he said.

Winona Holsinger conducted the Wind Ensemble in place of Dr. David Holsinger, who was in Texas.

The 200 singers were chosen from among seven ensembles on campus comprised of 350 students. The Festival Choir is led by Dean of Music Dr. William Green.

Conn said the program includes musical selections from P.S. 22 from Staten Island, N.Y.; Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, a church choir; and one college choir.

“I was told by someone in D.C. there are approximately 10,000 college choirs in America and only one is singing at this inauguration,” Conn said to loud applause.

On Monday, the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama begins on Capitol Hill at 11:30 a.m., with musical selections by the U.S. Marine Band. The Marines are followed by Public School 22 and the Festival Choir.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will call the ceremony to order and offer welcoming remarks. The invocation by Myrlie Evers-Williams will follow. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir will precede the invocation and precede the oath of office administered to Vice President Biden by Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

James Taylor will perform prior to the oath of office administered to President Obama by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.