Masterworks presenting 10th anniversary concert
On March 30, at 3 p.m., Newnan’s Masterworks Chorale marks 10 years with “A Celebration of Music and Community” at the Centre for the Performing and Visual Arts.
The highlight of the concert will be a classical work, Franz Schubert’s “Mass in G.” Guest artists Emily Budd and Greg Bucks will sing the soprano and baritone solos while Masterworks’ own L.C. Lane will perform the tenor solos.
The other concert selections, both classical and modern, celebrate and praise the art of music itself, including George Frideric Handel’s “Your Voices Tune,” “Sing Me to Heaven,” by Daniel Gawthrop, “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Joseph Martin’s “Come to the Music.”
In the spring of 2004, under Don Nixon’s direction, Coweta County’s Centre for the Performing and Visual Arts opened. However, unknown to Newnan, Kathy Bizarth, then director of music at Newnan High School, had been working with Nixon behind the scenes to organize a community chorus. Masterworks Chorale performed at the Centre’s grand opening.
Several people who sang at that ceremony still sing with Masterworks today, such as Denise Meacham, who teaches music at Smokey Road Middle School. “For the whole year that the Centre was being constructed, we looked forward to a grand opening in the spring,” Meacham recalled. “The huge event was televised by the local cable TV system and featured performers of all kinds, many from the Coweta County schools: musical groups, singers, dance groups. Masterworks Chorale was the last group to perform.”
“I think one reason the choir was developed was to be a kind of anchor for the concerts,” said Terrie Wells, also a Coweta County School System music educator. “The Centre being there is a wonderful thing for all of us to have for our students, and Masterworks is inspiring for the students who go to hear it. And a lot of them perform with us as singers and instrumentalists.”
Joan Nelms, another music teacher, recalls how thrilled she was to be a part of, “the blend of voices.
“It had been a long time since I’d heard a choral performance of that caliber. The music was more difficult and challenging than I was used to doing, but it was fun. We’ve always been challenged to seek higher levels of music integrity, and Kathy’s done a really good job of directing and choosing music.
“Also, she’s brought in musical experts from around the country to provide an educational experience for everyone, performers and audience alike.”
“I’m not a music teacher, although I am musically trained,” added Masterworks’ Dee Nixon. “Not since I was in college have I sung in an almost professional group. The massive, wonderful sound of it was therapeutic for me. I was doing a lot of caregiving at the time, and it held me in place and gave me somewhere to go.
“And I don’t mean physically go, but emotionally and spiritually. Kathy seems to pull out of us a lot more than we think we have.”
To Meacham, it’s important for the group to keep pushing itself and giving something back to the community.
“I think one of the unique things about this group is that year after year, it’s never exactly the same group,” said Meacham. “Some people are here, and then they have a season where they can’t participate. People move into and out of the area. But it doesn’t affect the success of the group.”
“I take a lot of what we do here back to my students, and I put it on a middle school level,” Meacham added. “And elementary teachers do the same. Everybody in the chorus, at whatever level of musicianship they’re at, comes out with more knowledge.”
As part of their tenth anniversary celebration, Masterworks is offering a special ticket pricing of “$10 for 10,” which is $10 for a ticket to any tenth anniversary concert (with the exception of student tickets, which will remain at $5.). Call 770-254-2787 for more information.
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(Joan Doggrell sings alto with Masterworks and teaches English at West Georgia Technical College.)