The Mercer Singers will perform their final concert of the year on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. This concert has been a special yearly tradition started by the Townsend School of Music’s Stanley Roberts when he became the director of the Mercer Singers 22 years ago.
“It’s the last concert for students. For some in Mercer Singers who are music majors, it’s the ending of a major chapter of their career,” Roberts said. “For those who are not necessarily music majors, but have been very committed to the group, it’s the ending of a very significant time in their lives.”
The concert will be a mixture of songs which the group has never performed before and some pieces which they have sung throughout the year. Roberts said that they will be performing a few pieces that hold special meaning to the students, which they enjoy singing the most.
Not only will the concert signify the end of a season of performing, but for those graduating, it will be the last time for them to take the stage with the Mercer Singers. There are only three seniors this year — Mary Lathem, Andrew Hearn and Hannah Loeffler.
“We say goodbye to the seniors that are graduating, and at the end of the concert, I acknowledge all those [who have performed] their last concert. The audience claps, the students clap, and there are lots of tears,” Roberts said.
According to Roberts, this group of seniors is going in a variety of paths. Some are going into high school or middle school choral directing, and some are looking at going to graduate school.
One of the seniors, Andrew Hearn, has been a part of Mercer Singers for five years. “You spend a lot of hours with that person. You rehearse 4 hours a week, throw in several concerts, and some tours and some bus time, you get to know students extremely well,” said Roberts about Hearn and the other seniors.
Looking back at this year as a whole, Roberts said that this has been a “tremendous” year. He compared choir to athletics, and looking ahead he said that he has a young men’s section that is developing in the same way that football defensive coordinator may have an all freshman and sophomore defensive line.
“This group, as far as musicality, is probably the strongest group I’ve ever had,” Roberts said.
Earlier this year, Mercer Singers had the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall. “Not every student gets to have a Carnegie Hall experience, but for this group, that is what they are going to look back on as a significant event in their life,” Roberts said.
Roberts says that as much as he enjoys developing students musically, he enjoys building personal connections even more.
“I love to follow the students in their careers, whether it is music or non-music. I enjoy keeping up with them, and them keeping up with me,” Roberts said. “I love it when they come back and say that they’ve gotten engaged. I love it when they come back and say they are having a baby, or having a third baby. Those relationships are special things.”
The final concert is free to the public, and all Mercer faculty and students are encouraged to attend. It will be held in Fickling Hall.
“It’s a great way to come and have an enjoyable time of listening to music, and maybe have a little bit of nostalgia at the same time,” Roberts said.