By Lee Love
Choral Society of Middle Georgia
It was the musical experience of a lifetime for two choirs from Macon, Georgia, who recently embarked on a trip to the United Kingdom.
While Macon sweltered in record-breaking heat in the last week of May, members of the Choral Society of Middle Georgia, the Mercer Singers, and their director, Dr. Stanley Roberts, traveled to Swindon, England.
Upon their arrival, the vocalists from Macon joined the Swindon Choral Society, the JTP Trust Children’s Choir, professional soloists, and an orchestra in presenting a celebratory 90th Anniversary of Swindon Choral Society’s performance of “Atlantic Odyssey.”
Written by the Swindon Choral Society’s Director, Robin Nelson, the cantata tells the remarkable story of the annual 40,000-mile migration of the Atlantic Tern. The tern is a small, white-chested bird with distinctive black head feathers and a long red beak who travels from the North Atlantic coasts to Antartica and back in its yearly migration.
While in Swindon, the American choirs were honored at a gala reception attended by the Queen’s representative, the Lord Leftenant of Wiltshire, and the Deputy Mayor of Swindon. The Mercer Singers presented a short program for the guests, ending with a rousing rendition of Mercer’s Fight Song!
During their stay, many choir members were hosted in private homes of the Swindon choral group, giving them a personal, close-up view of modern life in a large English town (pop. 182,000). Swindon dates back to the 11th century and is headquarters of the National Trust.
The choirs enjoyed day trips to Avebury, home of a Neolithic henge monument containing 3 stone circles dating from 2850 BC; the town of Bath, a UNESCO world heritage site that contains Roman baths first built in 43 AD and still bubbling up from the earth today; and Gloucester, home to the 11th Century Gloucester Cathedral, which appeared in two Harry Potter films. Mercer Singers were privileged to sing in the Cathedral during their visit.
Leaving Swindon, the group from Macon enjoyed trips to Oxford University, the Cotswolds, and Stratford Upon Avon, home of William Shakespeare. While some members left for home on May 29th, others went to Scotland, Ireland, and London on personal holidays.
The once-in-a-lifetime performance in Swindon was a dramatic follow-up to last year’s performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
In August, the Choral Society of Middle Georgia will begin rehearsals for its 44th year of presenting music to Macon. Interested vocalists are encouraged to contact the Choral Society via Facebook.