On Thursday, Jan. 26, the Mercer Singers attended the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA).
Directed by Dr. Stanley L. Roberts, the choir is made up of 40 auditioned Mercer students, and they have approximately 30 performances per year.
The Mercer Singers have made four recordings.
Dr. Roberts has been a choral director for about 30 years, beginning when he started directing church choirs as a Mercer student at age 20.
Roberts has directed the Mercer Singers specifically for 15 years, and they have attended and sang at GMEA several times, beginning in 1999.
GMEA is made up of around 4,000 music educators, according to their website, and they can range anywhere between elementary school to high school, general music to band and piano.
However, on March 1, Mercer singers will be singing at ACDA, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), for the very first time.
“ACDA is very elite in that there are so many choirs,” said Roberts, explaining that ACDA, unlike GMEA, is made up only of choral conductors, usually for high school and college.
“We will be one of six university choirs out of 10 states that have been invited to sing for this,” reported Roberts.
The two conventions are showcases, and the Mercer Singers, among other choirs, have a concert time in which they perform a 25 minute program.
To go to both GMEA and ACDA, the Mercer Singers had to submit an audition to be invited.
ACDA, being more prestigious, requires that three years of recordings be sent in order to receive an invitation.
“You have to prove a level of musical excellence and stability that is very consistent,” Roberts added.
For GMEA, it is only required that you send a recording of the current year. Roberts sent audition tapes in May of last year.
“The ACDA is a very high honor,” said Roberts, who has submitted for Mercer Singers several times and has never been selected before now.
“It’s an acknowledgement by other college directors that this group is really one of the tops in the southeast.”
The Mercer Singers have participated in many other prestigious avenues before. They perform annually with the Macon Symphony Orchestra, where Dr. Roberts is a guest conductor.
The Mercer Singers have also had six international tours since 2000, singing in around 12 countries.
The Mercer Singers have sung at many famous cathedrals including St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and St. Paul’s in London. They have also recorded three CDs.
On March 23, the Mercer Singers will perform a noon-day concert called “The Blue and the Grey – Music of the Civil War Soldier” in conjunction with Jack Tarver Library’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the commencement of the Civil War.
Next fall will be “A Grand Mercer Christmas” which is a recording that will be a PBS special where the Mercer Singers will collaborate with the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings.
“We have a couple of concerts during the year that we always love to have folks to come and be a part of,” said Roberts.
For more information on the Mercer Singers and a calendar of concerts, visit http://www2.mercer.edu/Music/mercersingers.htm.