Mercer Singers to serve as a GMEA conference exhibition choir


Mercer Singers in their concert attire ready to take any stage.

Blossom Onunekwu

Mercer Singers in their concert attire ready to take any stage.

Blossom Onunekwu, Contributing Writer

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Every January, the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) hosts a conference for music educators statewide. Attendees are treated with fresh classroom ideas, camaraderie and special concerts from the state’s most prestigious ensembles. This time, the Mercer Singers have been invited to serve as an exhibition choir.

The conference welcomes music teachers from every grade level that want to learn how to better their ensemble. Teachers can receive advice varying from how to tune properly to how to recruit more men into a choir.

The selection process to sing for the GMEA concert was laborious for both the Mercer Singers and director Stanley Roberts.

“We submitted our audition on tape,” Roberts said. “Then there was a blind audition process, and then we heard we were accepted to sing.” This is the seventh time one of Roberts’ choirs has participated in the conference, which does not allow back-to-back participation.

While at the conference, the Mercer Singers and Roberts will have the opportunity to listen to a variety of choirs. Roberts said he felt that the performances at GMEA provide inspiration from the new, euphonic songs to the pure voices of the children’s choirs.

Just as Roberts is inspired by younger voices, he hopes high school choirs will be equally inspired by the Mercer Singers.

“I want high school choirs to (think), ‘Wow, that’s a good program,’” said Roberts.

By participating in the concert, the Mercer Singers not only serve as entertainment, but they also work as recruiters, showcasing the quality of Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music.

“The older I get, the less uptight I am about (preparation for GMEA),” Roberts said, even though the Mercer Singers are required to memorize seven songs and half the choir has been preparing for the Mercer University Opera’s performance of the musical “Oklahoma!”

Nevertheless, Roberts is optimistic and confident about the performance.

“Part of my job is to keep everyone on the same page, and there indeed have been challenges some years,” said Roberts. “Not this year.”

In preparation, the Mercer Singers will join Riverwood High School on Jan. 26 to perform their respective pieces for a “prelude to the GMEA concert.

“[Performing a prelude concert] really gets the monkey off your back since we won’t be as uptight,” Roberts said. The Mercer Singers will officially showcase the effects of their hard work and determination Saturday, Jan. 30 at 10:30 a.m. in Athens, Georgia.

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