SHREVEPORT, LA -- The Centenary College Choir made such a favorable impression last year at a White House reception, this year they are doing something rarely done -- a repeat White House performance. "It's historic -- being asked twice, " said Choir Director Will Andress, who Friday (Dec. 11) will find himself directing again in the White House.
Dr. Andress, who has directed the Centenary Choir in such places as St. Peter's in Rome, Notre Dame, and Westminster Abbey, ranks the White House concert at the pinnacle of an outstanding career. "As important and as wonderful as those places were, the experience of being in the nation's White House has been my greatest performance thrill. It's like getting to go to heaven twice," he said. This year's performance will be at a White House reception for presidential appointees and will include two 40-minute programs of Christmas music. One will take place on the Grand Staircase and the other in the East Room. Last year's single concert from the Grand Staircase was during a reception for 600 diplomats.
Also new this year: the entire choir will make the trip and a dozen more members will get to sing who were unable to last year because of limitations on the size of the group, Andress said.
The initial invitation came about via Choir accompanist Jerry Don Killian of DeQueen, Ark., whose family members are active with the Democratic Party and who are friends of the first family. This year, First Lady Hillary Clinton asked the Office of the Social Secretary to issue the Centenary invitation again.
Choir members will depart Shreveport by bus on Dec. 10 after singing at a noon meeting of the Centenary Board of Trustees. On Friday, before their 8 and 9 p.m. White House concerts, and on Saturday morning, they will tour Washington sites and visit with members of the Louisiana congressional delegation. They will depart Washington at noon on Saturday and arrive back on campus Sunday.
"This is something no one else has been able to do," Andress said. "We are deeply grateful and humble for this to happen."
The Centenary Choir can be seen on local television twice during December. KTBS-TV Channel 3 and Southwestern Electric Power Co. will present the Choir's 30-minute Christmas program at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20 and at 10:35 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec. 24.
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