By Karen Middleton
It might be a first-time occurrence for an Athens musical group to perform on the stage of world-renowned Carnegie Hall in New York.
If it is, the reorganized Athens State University Community Chorus would hold that honor.
Chorus Director Dr. John Butler received the invitation two weeks ago for the chorus to perform on June 3, 2014, at Carnegie.
“I had been in contact with Carnegie since I was a chorus director in Birmingham and we were invited to perform at Carnegie several years ago,” said Butler. “I moved to Athens State University, they had been watching me and were waiting for us to be ready.”
This is the first time the group has been invited to perform outside the county, Butler said.
Diane Sauers, director of the ASU Center for Lifelong Learning, said it was a goal of hers to “resurrect” the chorus since the center opened.
“It seemed to be a great opportunity for Athens State singers and other talented community members to rehearse and perform together — much like the Athens State Community Band,” said Sauers.
The chorus was started in 2011 under the direction of assistant director Lynette Pope with Beth Andrews serving as pianist. Butler said there have been 30 local singers to participate in the chorus since it was reorganized. The chorus currently has 20 members.
“We’re hoping to build the chorus to at least 50 members by the time of the Carnegie performance,” said Butler.
The Center for Lifelong Learning will hold auditions for new members. Anyone who has officially registered or performed with the group since 2011 will not be required to audition.
“All singers will need to do is show up with their voices,” said Butler. “They will not be required to have a prepared piece or an accompanist. We’re looking for young and old.”
Butler said he would be auditioning sopranos, altos, tenors and bassos.
“When I say ‘young and old,’ what I mean is no one younger than high school,” said Butler. “Although the issue with high school students is they lack independence and need chaperones. We would consider high school age singers if there is significant involvement by the parents.
“And there are some really good high school singers out there. If they have their parents involved, they can all go to New York and help out.”
Sauers said the Center for Lifelong Learning has already received calls from singers in Tupelo, Miss., and Florence, wanting to audition.
To audition, call 256-233-8260 or email email@example.com. Audition times have been set July 13 and 14 in Athens and July 16 in Birmingham.
New members will be notified by July 22.
Butler said rehearsals for the December concert will begin the first Tuesday in October, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. He said the group typically rehearses once a week. He said some of the December concert selections would also be on the Carnegie Hall repertory.
“We are especially encouraging school and church choral directors to join us,” said Butler.
Sauers said she would write a grant to fund trip transportation costs and accommodations. Ticket sales proceeds from the December and Easter concerts would also go toward that cost.
“And contributions,” said Sauers. “Contributions are always most welcome.”