History of the Choir
Since 1941 the Centenary College Choir has performed throughout the world: singing for front-line troops in Korea, many American and European heads of state, NATO and American armed forces worldwide, ten international conventions of Lions International, three times for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops, and two lengthy engagements at New York's Radio City Music Hall.
In addition to singing annually throughout the United States, the choir makes international tours every other year, which have included thirty-one countries on six continents. The most recent tour was to Brazil and Argentina in 2011. Years of extensive travel have earned the choir the media title of "America's Singing Ambassadors."
The choir is a unique collegiate choral group, singing a varied repertory including both sacred and secular music, from Bach to Broadway, folk to contemporary, and opera to oratorio. There is always something for everyone at a Centenary College Choir concert.
Each year the choir is asked to perform with one of the area symphony orchestras. This is in addition to the performance of a major work with orchestra that the choir presents each spring. This choir/orchestra concert utilizes student soloists, giving them an opportunity not usually offered on the undergraduate level.
Knowing that the visual, as well as the aural appeal, is important to the success of a performing organization, the choir makes every effort to project an appealing appearance. The choir has numerous sets of gowns and tuxes to wear for various concerts. All of the gowns and tuxes are provided for the singers without cost to the members.
The young men and women of the choir come from various parts of the country and often from other nations. They represent most of the academic majors on campus. Currently their majors include art, biology, business, communications, political science, pre-law, pre-med, sociology, and others. This is a choir for those who love to sing, and do it well, regardless of their academic major. Generous choir scholarships are available.
In spite of singing thirty or more concerts each year, the students only rarely miss class. The choir's GPA is actually higher than the college average; therefore one can assume that being in the choir only enhances the grades.
From modest beginnings, hampered at first by World War II, the choir grew to be an internationally recognized program. Under Dr. A.C. “Cheesy” Voran’s leadership (1941-1972), the choir first toured the south by bus and train. Soon the choir was in demand for Lions International conventions and for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. In the 1950s, the United States Government sent the Centenary College Choir to Korea and Japan to entertain the troops. In the 1960s, the Choir enjoyed two long engagements at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.
From 1972-1974, Dr. William Ballard served as director. Before departing to become director of the famed San Francisco Boy Choir, Dr. Ballard took the choir on its first tour of England.
In 1974 Centenary College named Dr. Will K. Andress (1974-2007) as the next director. Dr. Andress, called Will by all of his colleagues and students, is an alumnus of both Centenary College and the Choir. Under Will’s direction, the Centenary College Choir continued to expand its repertoire and its touring program including seven appearances at Christmas receptions in The White House, and in concert tours to Brazil, South Africa, Ireland, Wales and England.
Upon Will’s retirement in 2007 Centenary College named David A. Hobson as the fourth director of the Centenary College Choir. David is also an alumnus of Centenary College and the Centenary College Choir and is the second to hold the A.C. “Cheesy” Voran Chair. Under David's direction, the repertory of the Choir continues to grow through acquisitions of new works and annual commissions of new works by contemporary composers, including choir alumni Dr. James Eakin, Taylor Davis and Costas Dafnis. In 2009, he continued the Choir's program of international touring when he took the Choir to New Zealand and Australia, where the highlight was performing to a sold out performance at the world-famous Sydney Opera House. In 2011, the Centenary College Choir toured Brazil and Argentina, and a tour of Italy is planned in 2013. February 2012 included Hobson preparing the Choir for its Carnegie Hall debut in New York City, performing Choir alumnus Dr. James Eakin's world premiere of Flowers Over the Graves of War.