published Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Boys Choir partners for concerts

Chattanooga Choral Society, First Baptist Church choir join boys for tributes

The Chattanooga Boys Choir and the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song
The Chattanooga Boys Choir and the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Simmons-O'Neal Concert

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10

Where: Chattanooga State Community College, Humanities Building auditorium, 4501 Amnicola Highway

Admission: Free, but donations accepted

Website: chattanooga

John Rutter's "Mass of the Children"

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13

Where: First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave.

Admission: Free, but love offering taken


It's been a whirlwind two weeks for the Chattanooga Boys Choir and director Vic Oakes.

On Jan. 29, the boys finished recording a preview CD for the National Choristers Guild that will be sent to some 7,000 directors and teachers, according to Oakes. The CD is comparable to a teaching guide to which educators may listen while considering a piece of music for purchase or performance.

With little time for a breather, next the boys are presenting two concerts almost back-to-back in the coming week. Both concerts will serve as fundraisers.

The Boys Choir will partner with the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song on Sunday, Feb. 10, for their 20th annual Simmons-O'Neal concert. The concert at Chattanooga State Community College is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit scholarship funds of both choirs.

The Simmons-O'Neal Concert is a memorial to two well-known music educators, Everett O'Neal and Edmonia Simmons, former directors of the two choirs. Wilma LeSure and Michael Mitchell are now directors of the Choral Society.

"Each choir performs music from its own repertoire, then the two will combine at the end of the program for a rousing and memorable finish to a great afternoon of music-making," said Oakes.

Oakes said the boys will present some of the music they've just finished recording as well as spirituals "I'm Going to Sing When the Spirit Says Sing" and "Over My Head I Hear Music In the Air."

"We are doing an arrangement of 'Amazing Grace' by composer Stephen Hatfield that is gorgeous. It's not the tune most of us are familiar with," he adds.

The boys and adults will combine for Malcolm Archer's arrangement of "The Lord Is My Shepherd," among others.

Three days later, Wednesday, Feb. 13, the boys again take the stage for a performance of John Rutter's "Mass of the Children" at First Baptist Church with that church's chancel choir.

"It's a really powerful work," says Oakes. "It has a traditional form of Mass but also more modern elements in it."

The concert is noteworthy not only for this new collaboration but for the fact the Mass is being performed on the exact 10th anniversary of its premiere.

"It's a pretty large work, about 35 minutes by itself, and we are singing a couple of pieces on the program as will the church choir," said Oakes.

First Baptist's Jeff Parker will direct the performance. Soloists will be soprano Kristen Wiram and Oakes. The choirs will be accompanied by an orchestra of community musicians. Admission is free, but a love offering will be taken to benefit Newton Child Development Center.

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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