SHREVEPORT, LA -- "It's a great honor. They don't know of another college choir invited to do this. We're very fortunate." That's the way Centenary College Choir Director Will Andress describes the Choir's unprecedented third invitation to perform at The White House.
The Choir will fly to Washington, D.C. for two Dec. 10 performances during The White House's holiday reception for presidential appointees. As they have done the past two Decembers, Choir members will present a program of secular and sacred music.
Two years ago, 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. The Choir performed once from the Grand Staircase for a group of 600 diplomats.
Last year, due to the Choir's popularity, First Lady Hillary Clinton asked the Office of the Social Secretary to issue the Centenary invitation again, this time at the reception for presidential appointees. The Choir performed two 40-minute programs, one from the Grand Staircase and one in the East Room.
This year, Centenary's invitation for two 45-minute concerts came along with a chance to choose from one of three dates. That, Andress said, allows the full Choir to be part of the college's annual Candlelight Christmas Celebration on Friday, Dec. 3. That event, free and open to the public, will be held at 6 p.m. in Centenary's Brown Memorial Chapel.
Andress noted that the White House performers will once again be limited to 25, because of the fact that there is no large waiting area for performers. The 25 attending were selected from the Choir's membership of 65, "based on seniority, rather than abilities, because they're all good," he said.
Choir members will depart Shreveport on TWA on the morning of Dec. 10 and will perform that evening at 5:45 and 7. Before flying back home on Saturday, Dec. 11, they will be treated to a special guided tour by the Louisiana Congressional delegation, and will visit the Holocaust Museum.
- 30 -