ACU’s next choir concert, Fall Sing, will occur at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 2nd, at First Baptist Church.
The concert will be a bi-collegiate collaboration between ACU and McMurry University. Dr. Jeffery Goolsby, the Director of Choral Activities at ACU, will be conducting ACU’s A Cappella Chorus and University Chorale. Accompanying him is Jeffery Ratcliffe, ACU’s Choral Accompanist, on the piano.
The McMurry Chanters will also be performing Tuesday night. Conducting them will be Jeffery Ratcliffe, the Choral Director at McMurry. Accompanying him is Van Hayes, the Staff Accompanist at McMurry, on the piano.
While it’s unsurprising to see a tri-college concert between ACU, McMurry, and Hardin-Simmons University in the spring, a bi-collegiate choir concert has never been performed. The idea originated from the current connection between ACU and McMurry.
At the moment, Jeffery Ratcliffe is both the Choral Director at McMurry and the Choral Accompanist here at ACU providing a situation with the appropriate conditions for such a collaboration to occur.
“We were just talking about ways to support both programs, especially coming off of last year with COVID,” Goolsby said. “It was a really hard year for everybody, but especially in music. Doing this thing that we love to do, making music, with face masks and with distancing and all of the precautions that we put into place was really difficult. So, what’s a way that we can celebrate music, celebrate singing? This was the idea that came out of that conversation.”
In addition to celebrating music, this collaboration provided a unique opportunity for the McMurry Chanters.
“It’s a small program at McMurry, it’s a small choir, and I’m huge on collaboration; I love to do collaboration events,” Ratcliffe said. “I just wanted to give those students at McMurry the opportunity because it’s a smaller choir, to do a large choir repertoire. So, by joining with the choirs here at ACU, we were able to achieve that.”
The program itself will begin with the A Cappella Chorus performing the song “We Shall Be Known” by MaMuse and will feature pieces such as “Kyrie” from “Missa Brevis in D” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” by Rollo Dilworth. The McMurry Chanters will perform songs such as “A Patch of Light” by Jacob Narverud and “Grant us Thy Peace” by Feliz Mendelssohn.
However, one notable piece of music that stands out is “Hold On Just a Little While Longer.” This work was written by ACU alumni Remel Derrick and was published with Walton Music. Derrick currently lives in Abilene and serves as the Assistant Choir Director at Abilene High School. Derrick’s song is written in the spiritual style and was inspired by the various events of 2020.
“He wrote it during COVID, right after the first COVID shutdown in 2020,” Goolsby said. “At that point, everyone was at their homes. School for everyone had shut down, and so he needed an outlet to make music. So, he wrote this piece really quickly, and one of the refrains that come back around numerous times is ‘hold on just a little while longer, everything will be all right.’ So, that’s kind of been a theme for us throughout COVID and throughout this year.”
Alongside this being the first bi-collegiate choir concert, it’s also the first time that the ACU Choir Department will be partnering with the Food Bank of West Central Texas. The department is asking for donations of nonperishable food items. Barrels, where audience members may drop off their donations, will be present at First Baptist Church. Additionally, monetary donations will be accepted and made online.
Furthermore, future bi-collegiate and tri-collegiate concerts seem likely as both directors are open to the possibility of future collaborations. With Ratcliffe stating that he’s hopeful that we’ll be able to establish a regular tri-collegiate or bi-collegiate event for the community.
“It’s more unusual for university choirs or university music programs to come together like this,” Goolsby said. “So, it makes sense in a town like Abilene where you have three faith-based institutions to come together like this. So, I hope it’s something that we can do more of in the future.”