Masterworks choir provides preview of Ayr performance

by Clay Neely

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The Masterworks Women’s Ensemble performs George Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.” 


With just over a month left before its trip to Ayr, Scotland, the Centre Masterworks Ensemble Choir performed its “Bon Voyage Concert” Sunday at Wadsworth Auditorium in downtown Newnan.

The trip is part of the sister city relationship between Newnan and Ayr.

The Ensemble Choir not only showcased its program but also previewed its performing attire – each member wearing an official Georgia tartan, hand-crafted by local artist Ann Lynn Whiteside.

Millie Turek, director of the Youth Chorale, began the program with musical selections from composers such as Rodgers & Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington.

“The musical program that we have selected represents the finest in American music genres – classical, folk, spirituals, Broadway, jazz, swing – and the composers,” Turek said in explaining the selection of music for the program. “Our performance today represents ‘round one’ as we continue to polish our presentation before we take it to Scotland in June.”

The program also featured the Masterworks Senior Youth Chorale, directed by Rachel Gordon, the Masterworks Women’s Ensemble, directed by Kathy Bizarth, and then a combination of all the groups featured at the end of the performance, which closed with a moving version of “Auld Lang Syne.”

“It was such an honor to work with all of those musicians, and to be asked to represent Newnan,” Turek said. “In this last month, we will continue to plan for the specific concerts in Scotland, put some finishing touches on the presentation, and communicate with the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra to coordinate working with them on the string accompaniments.” The Fiddle Orchestra has previously visited and performed here in Newnan.

With thanks given to the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission members, to Mayor Keith Brady, to the Centre and its director, Don Nixon, to First United Methodist Church, where the group has rehearsed, and to Kathy Bizarth, Turek was especially emphatic on the role the community played in the event.

“To all who cherish and support the arts as an integral part of our heritage, I thank you,” Turek said. “The love generated by a community of singers is a powerful gift to share.”

Brady was on hand and spoke about the tireless work the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission has done on behalf of the performers and the city.

“Because of them, they will help forge friendships that will last a lifetime,” Brady said. “Our roots run very deep with Scottish heritage in Georgia, and I’ve always believed that our Southern hospitality originated in Scotland.”

A raffle for gift baskets from downtown Newnan merchants was also held, with all proceeds going toward the children and young women for excursion money that may be needed while in Scotland.

Bette Hickman of the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission also praised those in the community who have contributed to making the voyage possible. “This event is the result of over a year of hard work by the concert leaders, and their students and families, along with the many business, civic and community sponsors that believed in this worthy endeavor,” Hickman said.

“On behalf of the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission, we are extremely proud of the result,” Hickman said. “This dedicated group of Ambassadors and their beautiful voices will represent our community when they stay in the homes of our hosts and perform on an international stage.”

Since the sister city program was established between Newnan and Ayr in 1998, the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra has performed in Newnan three times. The upcoming trip to Ayr, Scotland will be the first time Newnan has had the opportunity to send a choir overseas to perform.

The sister city program was formed so that citizens from both countries could learn new cultures and gain from educational opportunities. * * *

The Centre Masterworks Youth Chorale is still taking donations for sponsorships. Those wishing to assist may contact Bette Hickman for more information in becoming a sponsor: betteghickman@gmail.com.



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