Timeless melody… USM Chamber Singers entertained with harmony and melody.
Timeless melody… USM Chamber Singers entertained with harmony and melody.
Jillian Surla

University of Southern Mississippi Chamber Singers promote lifetime of song

High notes of life

by Jillian Surla, editor-in-chief

FAIRHOPE, Ala. – At 9:00 a.m. on January 5, University of Southern Mississippi Chamber Singers performed for Fairhope High School chorus students, encouraging dedication to the craft.

The tour planned to stop at FHS before going to Florida, ending with an anticipated performance at Disney World.

Questions, anyone?… USM singers answer every question students have about majors, music and more. The event held three question-and-answer sessions to make sure students were informed. (Jillian Surla)

“This is a really great group to work with. They are always willing to do whatever you ask them, whether it’s something they’re not used to or not. They work hard,” said Lucas Orndorff, Assistant Conductor.

Students watched the show in piano and chorus teacher Diane Ham’s room, a few commenting on how emotional the songs made them. USM Associate Director of Choral Activities Jonathan Kilgore hoped to give them an experience that would broaden their horizons and “show them there’s life outside of the day-to-day.”

After a couple of songs, Kilgore gave a speech highlighting the reasons chorus students should continue their vocal studies into college. One being that it creates an opportunity to build community.

“I think music is a life skill that enhances everything and I think that in today’s society, we all need that – to be able to enjoy something and just escape for a little bit,” Kilgore said.

At the end of his speech, Kilgore introduced School of Music Director Colin McKenzie. McKenzie shared reasons students should consider attending USM, using jokes and audience participation to highlight its uniqueness and emphasizing their personal teaching methods.

High school harmony… Students perform for onlookers, receiving applause and congratulations. Afterwards,they eagerly interacted with the Chamber Singers. (Jillian Surla)

McKenzie called attention to the USM belief that students are more than just a number. 

“We are very much a family and we hope to welcome you into the family as well. I’m really proud of what we do in our institution and what you’re seeing here is a snapshot of what happens every single day, and that’s so cool, so cool.”

Kilgore brought pre-school children into the room, referred to as “little listeners.” Orndorff then directed the singers in Hallelujah.

“We hope that [students] go out and find jobs that are suited to them and that they carry on the music that they have learned from here,” Orndorff said. “Just to carry on that passion that we try to instill on them.”

McKenzie believes that no matter what school or what major students decide to pursue, they should always keep participating in music.

“I would say confidence is key,” Kilgore said. “Trust yourself, trust your abilities, be confident and just enjoy it.”

Kilgore informed students that scholarship audition dates are February 19 and March 25, but can be altered if they spoke to Ham.

More to Discover