The Class of 2016: the Journey through our Heartland

The Concert Choir is going through an exciting transition as our beloved seniors walk across the graduation stage and then onto a plane with the rest of the choir as we embark on our journey to Scotland! As we prepared for our departure for Scotland and as we experience all that is around us, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the departure of our incredible seniors.

Each of the 18 Concert Choir students that crossed the stage on Sunday have quite the list of accomplishments and legacies that they are leaving behind as they go. Better yet, they are representing not only the choir, but Maryville College well with their future endeavors.


The following is a look at all that some of our seniors have accomplished in their years at Maryville College and how those accomplishments have influenced for their future.

As a four-year Student Government Association participant, a four-year Judicial Board servant, three-year Admissions Ambassador, and a member of the Concert Choir, Lassies, and Off Kilter, Blaine Coyle’s absence will certainly be noticed and missed as she pursues medical school study in the hopes of becoming a forensic child psychiatrist. She seeks to emulate joy and compassion in all her interactions and has found it her duty to serve the Maryville community through leadership, which is noted through her Chief Justice position, Choir Presidency and Vice Presidency, and theatrical lead roles. Coyle states that she hopes that she has left a mark on the hearts of her peers and sends her love to each that are still struggling through the challenge of MC academics.


Zeb Phillips, from Westel, TN, has had the honor of making it to the final round of auditions with the vocal group, Chanticleer. In the past four years at MC, he has undergone many vocal coachings with members of the King’s Singers and Anonymous 4. He’s had roles in several local operas and musicals, including: Will Parker in Oklahoma!, Charlie Hildebrandt in Street Scene, a Wickersham in Seussical: the Musical, and Gerradino in Gianni Schicci. Phillips has also taken several solo opportunities at MC, one being the piece “But Who May Abide” in Handel’s Messiah. He teaches voice lessons and is a scholarship vocalist for St. James Episcopal Church in Knoxville. One of Phillips’ most prized accomplishments was his recent production of a senior study recital titled The Feminine Illusionist: Breaking Down the Conventions of Gender on Stage. The show involved a selection of pieces that showed that, as long as someone has the ability to sing a role or character, then their gender should not be a factor in casting. Phillips plans to continuing seeking musical opportunities and to make a difference using the power of song throughout the years to come.


Megan Kolb has been leading a busy life, as well. Along with being a part of Off Kilter for three years and the Concert Choir for all four years, Kolb has been a leader for freshman as a Resident Assistant for three years. She has received many honors, including a full-tuition music scholarship and the Dorothy Barbara Bushing Academic Award last year. She is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies. She plans to use her talents, honors, and love for music to become a music teacher; in this case, she begins student teaching in the fall at Maryville High School and Foothills Primary.


As an International Business major with a political science and German language minor, Rachel Long has exceeded greatly in her four years at MC. She spent a semester abroad in Karlsruhe Germany where she continued her studies in German and international business. She was titled the Secretary General for two years at MC’s Model United Nations Conference, where she was later invited to take an all-expenses-paid trip alongside our own Eric Lipka to The Hague, Netherlands to attend a hearing at the International Criminal Court. Because of her time abroad and involvement with the Concert Choir, she had scholarships adding up to $7,500 to go towards her expenses at MC. Long will be officially attending New York University’s School of Professional Studies for graduate school. She will be studying Global Affairs, among only 35 chosen grad students.


Alexandra Stewart is diving straight into her future. She will be attending the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia this August where she will be pursuing a dual degree of a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology. In December, Stewart will be marrying a fellow MC graduate, Jacob Hutson. Stewart exclaims how excited she is to begin a new journey and joining a new community at Columbia all while loving her first years of marriage.


Newly a graduate in Psychology with a minor in Writing Communications, Megan Sparkes has been a Concert Choir member for all four of her years at MC. She has been working hard this year to finish her thesis titled Exploring the Efficacy of Phoneme-Learning Techniques for Monolingual Children with Deficits. Sparkes will be taking a year off to work on graduate school applications and GRE preparations. Ideally, she would prefer to get into the University of Tennessee’s Speech Pathology program next year.IMG_5876

Linley Dunn has graduated MC with a double major in Psychology and Music. With the rigor that comes with each major curriculum, she also spent a lot of time and passion working on musical compositions. Her composition for piano and cello was performed by colleagues in front of an audience, and she is sure that that moment was her proudest moment. In addition to composition, Dunn also led the MC Women’s Basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen Tournament this season. She plans on taking a year off before graduate school to intern at the children’s hospital in the oncology department.


These seniors are just a handful of the incredible group of students we all will miss greatly. Luckily for the entire choir, we have had one last opportunity to share memories with the graduates. Since May 17th, the Tuesday after graduation, the Concert Choir has been on a remarkable trip to Scotland. This has been the trip we have all been preparing for over the past two semesters, making this experience that much more rewarding for us.


Keep checking back throughout the next week to read more about our adventures, concerts, and memories we are making here in the heartland. If you are interested in seeing all of the fun and excitement the Concert Choir is having over here, follow our hashtag,#singingscots2016, on Instagram and Facebook, like our Facebook page Friends of the Maryville College Concert Choir, and follow the Instagram page @mcconcertchoir.

We wish the very best to every one of our seniors. We look back in appreciation on the experiences shared with them as we look forward in inspiration to one day singing on stage with them again. Remember you are never alone, seniors, and may the Lord always bless you and keep you.


A little catch up…

We apologize for the lack of presence on the MC Concert Choir blog recently – the first of the semester is always a busy time, especially for the Concert Choir. This entry is dedicated to catching you all up and filling you in on everything the ensemble has been busy doing these past few weeks!

At the beginning of the month, we began jumping right into new repertoire for the semester and our trip to Scotland. Mrs. Wilner introduced us to pieces that we immediately imagined singing in the cathedrals throughout the highlands and lowlands, such as Media VitaNon Nobis, and the challenging My Flight for Heaven.


Throughout our rehearsals, we have had two incredible opportunities to sing some of our selections to professional musicians that travel the world sharing their talent and advice. Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek came to us from Belfast, UK  to fill in for our friend, Paul Phoenix. She is a prestigious artist who has been a part of the nationally-known ensemble, Anonymous 4, and now teaches at The Julliard School. Since she is such close friends with composer Michael McGlynn, we had her advise the Concert Choir on a few of his pieces we are singing. Ms. Jacqui also heard the Lassies and Off Kilter sing some Gaelic selections we have been preparing.


Exactly a week after Ms. Jacqui stopped by, the Concert Choir welcomed yet another guest to the recital hall for a masterclass. Cantus is a popular musical ensemble made up of eight men who travel to universities and local theaters to perform and provide musical expertise. Their time with the Concert Choir, Off Kilter, and the Lads was one to remember. We sang for them a couple pieces in return for them singing for us. The enthusiasm Cantus expressed for us and our sound led us to enthusiasm within ourselves.

We were pleased to find that the impact Cantus had on us was not too far from the impact we had on Cantus. Mrs. Wilner received numerous comments back from individual members of the group exclaiming their gratitude for having them come and be a part of our rehearsal process!


The Concert Choir is ever so grateful for Ms. Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek and Cantus for visiting a providing us with a different perspective on how our music can be conveyed and performed.

Aside from the masterclasses with guest musicians, we have had a handful of our choir students undergo some exciting achievements. Our very own Lads has represented the choir well with numerous performances, including an impromptu jazz number with their director, Alan Eleazer, in his faculty recital last week and a spotlight performance for a Clayton Center production Tanasi 1796.

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One of our seniors, Ms. Lizzie Ruch put on a fabulous senior recital on the 12th with a packed house and beautiful musical selections from her four years as a music education major.


And lastly, our lovely alumni, Mr. Jesse Neace and Ms. Paige Wroble, representing Maryville College and the Concert Choir well as they sang together in the pre-game performance of the Super Bowl 50 game. Definitely something we feel we should brag about!


Don’t forget to follow our Instagram account @mcconcertchoir and hashtag #singingscots2016! Below are some videos capturing our experiences with our guest musicians.


Nollag an tír Dhúchais

Nollag an tír Dhúchais, meaning Christmas of the homeland, is exactly what the Concert Choir will be performing this Thursday and Friday in the “Celtic Christmas Concert.”


The concert is packed full of songs and carols from all over the British Isles – songs originating from England, Ireland, Wales, and, of course, Scotland.

The Concert Choir will be covering all of those areas with songs such as Codail a LinbhIn the Bleak Midwinter, and Celtic Alleluia. We are also featuring songs from the three small ensembles within the Concert Choir. The Lads are performing pieces that are both equally beautiful and hilarious (let’s just say one of their songs is called Fruitcake…). The Lassies have some all-around gorgeous traditional pieces that feature some unique instruments. And Off Kilter will spread Christmas cheer with some of the classics.

If the songs themselves don’t give you the Celtic feeling, then the guest instrumentalists and their talents surely will! We are honored to have over ten guest instrumentalists performing alongside the Concert Choir throughout the concert. Students, professors, and alumni have all volunteered their time and talents to playing a wide range of instruments, from guitar to hammer dulcimer!

Guest instrumentalists include Dr. Sheri Matascik, MC associate professor of music, on guitar; Marsha Wynn, MC advancement services and campaign manager, on dulcimer; MC senior Amber Nejme ’16 on marimba; MC senior Josh Sumter ’16 on organ and recorder; Adam Loo, MC Alumnus ’14, and a chamber orchestra of MC students who will perform during “Candlelight Carol.”

The Concert Choir is so incredibly excited to share the stage with these incredible musicians. And we hope to share the entire Christmas experience with you in our audience!

There are two opportunities to see the “Celtic Christmas Concert” – Thursday, December 3rd and Friday, December 4th. Both concerts will begin at 7:00pm in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Lambert Recital Hall (Building B). Tickets are $5, which can be purchased ahead of time or at the door at the CCA Box Office.

The money taken for this concert will go towards paying for our trip to the homeland this summer. The Scotland trip is getting closer, so we can use all of the Christmas help we can get!

Be sure to follow our Instagram page @mcconcertchoir and our hashtag #singingscots2016 to get a sneak peak into the life of the choir!

Clayton Center for the Arts Box Office: (865.981.8590)
Nollaig Shona!

Need a Christmas Gift Idea?

In need of an easy, convenient, and valuable Christmas gift? Have any empty space in those stockings? The Concert Choir can help!

Introducing the “America’s Freedom Coupon Card.”IMG_2834.JPG

This coupon “card” gains you access to hundreds of coupons for local and domestic businesses nation-wide! All you have to do is download the free app and enter the code provided on the card. From there, you can access coupons for a year after you activate it!

These coupons range from local restaurants to department stores, bowling alleys to manicures, and hotels to taxi services. The app organizes all of the many options for use into categories.


Screenshots of the coupon options on the app



Each card only costs $20. That’s it. Out of that $20, half of it goes to the Concert Choir for future travel expenses. Unfortunately, our experiences on choir tours are not cheap. The sales from this card will aid tremendously towards the continuation of those experiences.

If you are considering purchasing one of these coupon cards to help the Concert Choir and possibly add another gift under the Christmas tree, contact any Concert Choir member or one of our directors, Ms. Ashley Abbott or Ms. Stacey Wilner.

If you need more convincing, check out this video proof of some of our weary choir students and their cry for help…

We will be selling these cards up until April, so if you want to buy more, there is plenty of time! We thank you so much for your generosity and hope that you enjoy all the savings!


Singing For Service

As the holidays are rolling in, the Concert Choir desires a little something more than some classic Christmas carols. We are determined to serve and give back to something we find incredibly essential within the community this year.

For our service project this year, we are excited to host and participate in an Invitational Choral Festival to benefit the Blount County Boys & Girls Club! This festival will feature choirs from all over the greater Knox and Blount County areas: Heritage, Powell, Maryville, and Lenoir City High School. The Highlander Chorale, the Concert Choir, and Off Kilter will also be performing in the festival.


We are also excited to announce that the Boys & Girls Club Singers & Friends will be performing together for the first time! The ensemble is directed by Ms. Ashley Abbott, the MC Fine Arts Recruiter, and accompanied by Ms. Emily Randles, ’17.

The children of the B&G Club Singers and Friends are so excited to be a part of this musical experience, not only on stage on Saturday, but throughout the rest of the year. The experience will allow a closer sense of community within the club as well as provide an expression of emotion and energy for the kids. This is the reason why the Concert Choir chose to support the Blount County B&G Club with the production of this benefit concert. As a choir ensemble who has experienced how important music is to a community, the Concert Choir appreciates the steps the B&G Club has taken towards creating a musical outlet within the club.12047169_10153175516989067_3340781188035901112_n (1)

The Concert Choir cannot wait to share the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Stage with the some of the best choirs from all over the community on Saturday night. The choirs will arrive mid-afternoon on Saturday and begin rehearsal processes all day in preparation for the performance.

The concert will begin at 6:00pm in the Clayton Center for the Arts. There will be a reception to follow in the foyer with information about Maryville College and the Boys and Girls Club.

A big thank you to Ms. Stacey Wilner for her big heart and generous attempts at making the Concert Choir a little more than just singing songs and wearing kilts. In her words this evening, she “can’t wait to sing for such a good cause, support music in our community and touch people’s hearts with song! We are so blessed to be able share in such meaningful experiences.” And the Concert Choir could not agree more.  IMG_2619

Please help us in supporting the Blount County Boys & Girls Club by coming out to the performance on Saturday evening! Donation buckets will be sprinkled around the area throughout the evening if you choose to show a much-appreciated financial support!

To follow all of the participating students’ experience throughout the day on Saturday, make sure to follow the hashtag #MCSingingForService.

Once Upon A Time…

This Friday, the Concert Choir’s president, Ms. Hannah White, will be sharing her creativity and talents in a unique senior study.


The Storyteller is a musical showcase of princesses, villains, fairies, and, most importantly, magic. The show is split up into five different fairy-tales that we all grew up with: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, The Little Mermaid, and Hansel and Gretel.

The twist, however, is that within each fairy-tale, Hannah has chosen pieces from both a musical theater rendition and an opera rendition of the story to perform. This side-by-side comparison provides the audience with the similarities and differences within both art styles. While one style can be perceived as light and fun, the other can be perceived as darker and serious.

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If one cannot clearly see the comparisons – do not fear! The Storyteller has to have an actual storyteller! Ms. Ashley Abbott, the MC Fine Arts Recruiter, was chosen to be storyteller/narrator throughout the production, giving the audience a clear understanding of the purpose behind each piece. The words she says derive from all of the research Hannah did for the written portion of her senior study, under the incredible advising of Dr. Alicia Massie-Legg.

In addition to Ashley, Hannah has asked several other Concert Choir students to participate and contribute to her show. Most selections involve a duet or small ensemble. Throughout the semester these fourteen students have been meeting weekly with Hannah to learn the blocking and complex music she wanted. A big recognition to Chase Hatmaker, as well, for accompanying the entire production and being at every rehearsal with the cast. 12187811_10153724618413979_4156071193570580010_n

The Storyteller will only be performed once, so you must go see it while you can! It will be this Friday night, October 30th. The lights will dim in the Lambert Recital Hall in the Clayton Center for the Arts at exactly 7:00pm. It will be a show you would not want to miss, especially on the eve of Halloween!

The Concert Choir is extremely proud of all the hard work Hannah has put in to this show with writing, directing, and performing. We cannot wait to cheer on our President from the audience and the stage this Friday!IMG_8268IMG_8325

Home to Howee 2015

Last weekend, the Maryville College campus was packed full of people from all over the country dressed, head-to-toe, in orange and garnet.

Homecoming weekend is the most exciting weekend on campus during the academic year. Maryville College lovers come back “home to Howee” to celebrate the institution’s past, present, and future.

The Concert Choir is proud to be a part of this lively weekend by performing songs of the choir’s past in the Homecoming Choir Concert on Saturday morning. Alumni of all ages showed up to share the gift of song with us. To our great pleasure, the choir was fortunate to welcome two guest conductors to the podium. Mr. Hal Laster, class of 1965, and Mr. Dwight Dockeryclass of 2005, led the Homecoming choir in an engaging performance.


Our guests created an entirely new perspective on the music we had previously learned. An adjustment of a dynamic marking or the addition of a breath after a certain word would result in a more powerful piece that would communicate best with the audience. However, we didn’t just learn how to sing the music correctly. Mr. Laster conveyed his passion and true love for the Maryville College Concert Choir clearly to us in the short time we had with him. His emotion allowed us to understand just how important our time at this institution is. Dr. Dockery continuously expressed his gratefulness for the Maryville College Concert Choir as a stepping stone for his successful career. Each conductor left the concert choir truly inspired and proud to be a part of the ensemble.


We cannot forget to mention the incredible talents of Mrs. Shelley Maddox! Mrs. Maddox, class of 2005, stood alongside us as the soloist for the Homecoming Choir. Once she hit that first note, the entire choir was taken by surprise at just how enchanting her voice really is. And when she sang a Mozart recitative and aria, jaws dropped throughout the recital hall.

Fun Fact: Mrs. Maddox and Mr. Dockers are actually married and living in North Carolina. They are Concert Choir sweethearts!


Along with our soloist and guest conductors, we also were delighted with the presence of the Concert Choir alumni. This group of about twenty former Scots made our sound full, yes, but our hearts even fuller. Watching the alumni sing the favorite music of their past meant watching their eyes fill with tears as they traveled back in time to the days when they stood before the great Harry Harter. It was so special to share the experience with them. In this sense, we were not separate ensembles – we were a united choir.


Homecoming weekend is more than just a day of orange and garnet decorations and cheering on the MC Fighting Scots to victory. It’s a day of reunions and laughter. It’s a day of nostalgia and pride. It’s a day of reminiscing memories made on the Circle Drive. The Concert Choir was fortunate enough to be able to experience the reunions, pride, and reminiscing on a much more intimate scale.

The choir would like to thank the alumni who traveled from all parts of the country to be with us on Friday and Saturday. And a special thank you to our guest conductors who took the time and effort to lead us in this special occasion, and Mrs. Maddox for sharing her talents with her outstanding solos!

We already are looking forward to next year’s “Home to Howee” event!IMG_7851

Come on and Fight, Fight, Fight!

“On, highlanders, down the field. Rolling up the high score!”

This week is a special week for not only our choir, but for our institution as a whole. The Maryville College Homecoming is a thrilling time of reunions, traditions, and, most of all, Scots pride!

This week, the concert choir is preparing numerous pieces that is to be sung on Saturday morning for the annual Homecoming Concert. Joining us will be the Maryville College Alumni Choir! This choir is a group of Concert Choir alumni that meet together for the first time on the Friday of homecoming weekend and learn the music that is performed the next day.

Together, the two choirs will be singing some pieces composed by MC alumni, along with traditional songs that have been performed by the concert choir for decades.

To help boost the excitement for this spirited week and show our support for our 4-1 football team, MC Communications captured the concert choir singing the Maryville College Fight Song! This video is also a nice sneak peak at what we will be performing this weekend!

A big thank you to Gerhard Schneibel and the MC Communications team for putting this together!

We hope to see our fellow Scots supporting us in the audience on Saturday morning. The concert will take place in the Lambert Recital Hall in the Clayton Center for the Arts at 11:00am. Come a little earlier to hear our small ensembles perform a few of your favorites, as well. After the concert will officially be football time in Maryville! Go Scots!


A Journey Home: Scotland 2016


This week, the choir welcomed back Zoe from Perform International travel agency this past Tuesday to talk about our Scotland tour this coming May.

Zoe has been hard at work customizing an incredible choir tour around the country. She has built up an itinerary full of about seven concerts, numerous castle visits, and even a community service opportunity. Because of her connections and experience, we are expecting performances in tremendous castles, cathedrals, and historic venues.

Our route around Scotland will begin in Glasgow, where we will meet our tour manager from Perform International for the trip. He will be there to insure that the choir is well accommodated and everything goes smoothly throughout the entirety of our tour. He will take us to Glencoe for the night. The next day, we will be hopping on a ferry ride to Craignue on the Island of Mull, enjoying a scenic drive to the town of Fionnphort, and taking a foot ferry to the beautiful Island of Iona.

In Iona, the choir will perform their first concert in the St. Colombia Monastery, where Christianity was actually first brought to Scotland. We are going to be singing three pieces by a famous composer who lives in town – we are hoping he shows up in the audience!

Inverness is next on our tour. Here, the choir is to (hopefully) spot Nessie on a Loch Ness Monster cruise. We also have a visit to the largest inhabited castle in Scotland, the Dunrobin Castle, known for its gardens and falconry display.

Zoe has scheduled a church service for the choir to be a part of on the Sunday within the tour. The congregation of Ness Bank Presbyterian Church in Inverness is ecstatic to have us; they have already invited us for fellowship with coffee and tea following the service! Later that evening, we will travel to Dundee and perform a concert with either the Dundee Choral Union or the St. Andrews University Choir.

On the road to Stirling, our next stop, the choir will pay a visit to the Rachel House Hospice in Kinross – a hospice for children. Here, we will perform a little music and have some activities for the children. As Zoe shared this information, the choir as a whole seemed most willing for this stop. Sharing the gift of song in order to make someone smile, especially children, is what we love doing most.

That night, we will stay in Stirling with host families from the Heart of Scotland Choir, which means that the next evening will include the joint concert with the choir! Not only is the performance itself an incredible experience, but the cultural exposure from staying with a Scottish family is priceless.

After another night in Stirling, we will finish up our tour and concerts in the breath-taking city of Edinburgh. The choir will have their tour of the Edinburgh Castle before putting on a lunchtime concert at the St. Giles Cathedral. Zoe has been so gracious to conclude our last day in Scotland with a ghost tour for us in the evening!

The trip is scheduled for May 17th through May 26th, for a total of nine days. If you did not know, this tour is not just for the concert choir… Anyone is eligible to join in on a parallel tour! You would not be doing everything we do, but rather, you will be doing even more exciting things. If you would like more information, click here:

The MC Concert Choir would like to thank Zoe and Perform International for everything they are doing to make this tour unforgettable. We would also like to thank everyone reading this blog, for your support through financial and/or audience contributions is allowing us to take the journey back to our heritage. We are most certainly grateful.

o3z9CRvFgT (1)Countdown to Scotland: 235 days!