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FOR RELEASE 10/11/06
Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120

See page-one Shreveport Times article

33-Year Centenary College Choir Director Will Andress to Retire at Academic Year's End

Centenary Choir Director
Dr. Will K. Andress

SHREVEPORT, LA — The current academic year will be the final one for Dr. Will K. Andress, longtime director of the Centenary College Choir. Andress, who has directed the acclaimed choir since 1974, announced his retirement to Choir members and alumini in recent days.

"Will Andress has been a stellar director of the Centenary Choir," said Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab, Centenary president. "He has taken the Choir and represented the College with distinction in countries around the world and throughout the United States. Even while we wish him all the best in retirement, we will be greatly missing him on campus and in front of the Centenary College Choir."

Gale Odom, dean of the Hurley School of Music, said, "Will Andress has been an incredible asset to Centenary College. He will be much missed when he retires at the end of this year. He has guided the Centenary College Choir for 33 years and has also inspired many students to follow his footsteps into careers in church music or choral directing. He has been a true mentor to several generations of Centenary students. Will's energy and positive spirit are two of his greatest assets, and I expect him to continue to be a great ambassador for Centenary College, even in retirement."

Andress is himself an alumnus of the Choir. He holds degrees from Centenary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, East Carolina University, and Florida State University and completed post-graduate work at Perkins Theological Seminary and the Claremont School of Theology.

He is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, regional arts groups and often serves as guest conductor/clinician for regional festival concerts.

He is ordained clergy in the United Methodist Church and has served for over 30 years as minister of music at Shreveport's First United Methodist Church. He was selected as a reader/consultant on the United Methodist Hymnal currently in use.

Andress is one of only three directors during the Choir's 65 years, following A.C. "Cheesy" Voran, founder and choir director from 1941-1972, and Dr. William Ballard, professor of music and director from 1972-74.

A native of El Dorado, Ark., Andress was a member of the Choir 1956-61 under the direction of Voran. He is married to Shreveport native Julia Ann Hamiter. Their son Knox and daughter Libby were both in the Choir under the direction of their dad.

Since 1974 the Centenary College Choir has performed in 30 foreign countries on six continents, including Russia, South Africa, Australia, India and China. It was the first collegiate choir from the South to make an around-the-world tour and the Choir was the first Protestant choir to sing Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome.

Additionally, the Choir opened the Superdome with groups headed by Al Hirt and Pete Fountain and performed seven times in The White House, entertaining guests of the Presidents and First Ladies.

"I am proud that many of my students are successful choral directors in churches and schools, among the 500 or so students during my 33 years," Andress said. When he began, there were no endowed funds for the Choir. Now there are endowed scholarships, endowed choir professorships, endowed operating funds and a great Choir Alumni Association "working to take this support much further."

This fall Andress was appointed the first A. C. "Cheesy" Voran Endowed Professor in Choir, a title honoring his mentor.

The Centenary College Choir has earned the title of "America's Singing Ambassadors." As the history of the Choir states:

"For 65 years the Centenary College Choir has concertized 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.

"Recently, the Choir has performed at the Congressional Medal of Honor Recipent's Banquet ... at Notre Dame in Paris and in a concert tour to Brazil, South Africa and Europe....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."

The unique choral group has been guided for 33 years by Dr. Will Andress. He will conduct his last Rhapsody in View concerts with the Centenary College Choir on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 29 at 2:30 p.m. at Shreveport’s Riverview Theatre.


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