Long Beach High concert choir shines
By Andy Kanengiser
Long Beach High concert choirs have excelled with superb performances for over four decades. And 2021 was no different, with the talented student singers recently receiving all Superior ratings in statewide competition.
Choir director Terry Walker says he is thrilled to see the stellar ranking at the virtual 2021 State Performance Assessment. The Grade A honor for the Long Beach students this spring comes during a challenging year for so many people worldwide impacted by the pandemic.
“In the face of COVID-19 and all its uncertainty, they battled our membership reduction, cancelled performances, student absences, personal issues and even missed days due to inclement weather,’’ Walker said.
“Through it all, they maintained the excellent tradition of the choral program at Long Beach High,’’ the said Walker. The energetic choir director says he is proud of their “perseverance and the demands they put on themselves’’ to achieve success at the highest level.
Alana Rowe says she is delighted to be among the school’s celebrated singers on the
Mississippi Gulf Coast. “Being part of the group has given me a home, a second family, and a way to express myself with music,’’ she says. The LBHS junior is in her third year as part of the choir.
Her favorite piece of music with the group? It’s titled “A Prayer Before Singing,’’ a Dan Forrest choral selection the concert choir is practicing in April. The students are preparing for a limited attendance concert on May 6. Recordings of the concert will be posted on the school website.
Rowe is ecstatic at how the group fared so well in 2021.
“As we all know, this past year has been pretty crazy, but we have made it work.’’
Macy Barkum Robinson serves as the choir’s chief of staff. The Long Beach senior strives to sing her best with every performance or practice.
“What I love about being in choir is building friendships with other choir members.’’
One of her favorite songs is the religious work “Canticle of the Sun,’’ composed by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1225.
Blessed to lead an extraordinary group of students, Walker always loses singers to graduation each year. He must keep searching for replacements. Choir is offered beginning in the sixth grade, and the director encourages students to join as middle schoolers. The benefits are enormous.
“Through the years, countless students have benefited from being part of this program through collegiate scholarship, traveling, building friendships, and sharing of the gift of music,’’ Walker said. “I am proud to lead such an amazing group of students.’’
The group’s history spanning more than forty years is astounding. In 1997, the Long Beach Concert Choir became the first from a South Mississippi high school to perform at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall as well as sing at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In the summer of 2014, the Long Beach High choir made a concert tour to Austria and Switzerland. Under the direction of Walker, the group completed a summer performance tour of outstanding venues in Italy. Each year, the Long Beach High Concert Choir is recognized among the top five in the Magnolia State. Brian Chancey serves as the associate director of the choir.
For more information about the Long Beach High Concert Choir, visit www.LongBeachConcertChoir.org.