Published Sunday, September 30, 2012
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
East Coweta High School senior Mallory Cumbie stays busy with school and her Teacher Pipeline internship and sometimes she needs an escape.
It’s not unusual for a teenager to turn to music. But instead of humming along to the latest pop ditty or strumming a guitar to blow off steam, Cumbie performs as a first soprano in the Spivey Hall Tour Choir.
”I think it’s wise for teens to have something to turn to that has nothing to do with high school,” Cumbie said. “For me, it’s something I can pour my energy into without having to change paths, without getting into a mess.”
Being part of the 50-member group has taught Cumbie more than classical songs in languages like Swahili, French, German and Italian – more than how to sight-read music, more even than the teamwork required to perform within a select choir.
”It’s taught me about responsibility, about making a commitment to something,” said Cumbie, who is in her fourth and final year of performing with the Tour Choir.
Spivey Hall offers three choir programs: Young Artists for elementary-age students, Children’s Choir for sixth grade and older and Tour Choir. Cumbie spent a year in Young Artists and two in Children’s before auditioning for and earning a coveted spot in the highest-level Tour Choir.
Cumbie, who says she hopes to attend the University of Alabama next year to work on an education degree with a minor in music, sings in worship bands at her church as well. She has two younger sisters, Peighton and Chandler, and has had the full support and financial backing from parents Lonne and Blair Cumbie to continue performing with the Tour Choir – even when it meant a summer tour of the United Kingdom.
”We have an international tour every three years,” Cumbie said.
Next year – without Cumbie – the choir will head for Boston and concerts at performing arts centers and concert halls. The third year of the Tour Choir’s three-year rotation is regional and service-oriented, typically involving performances throughout Georgia and Florida at venues ranging from Habitat for Humanity events to nursing homes.
Cumbie said she has learned as much from the “giving back” tours as from the more high-profile tours, and she gives credit to the choir’s director, Dr. Martha Shaw, for her approach.
”She has taught us that we’re out there to bring people into the music and touch them, not just to be a good choir,” Cumbie said.
But it’s the personal aspect that has meant the most to Cumbie, who considers her fellow choir members close friends.
”They are all good people,” she said. “There’s no drama. It’s not a place of judgment. It’s like a safe haven from normal teenage stuff.”