At the laying of the cornerstone for Sewanee: The University of the South on October 10, 1860, a choir is first mentioned singing Psalm 100. Since that time, the University Choir has continued to play an important role in the musical life of the University and All Saints’ Chapel through services, recitals, and related ventures.
The University Choir, directed by Dr. Geoffrey Harris Ward since the fall of 2016, consists of roughly 60 dedicated undergraduates who sing at weekly services in All Saints Chapel, monthly Evensongs, and a variety of recitals throughout the program year. Choir membership is open to any student – no audition or previous experience is required, and the choir consists of a variety of students with different backgrounds and interests outside of their time in rehearsal.
One of the highlights of the school year is the annual service of Lessons and Carols near the end of the Advent semester. It regularly attracts as many as 3000 people to campus each year, and has been featured in Southern Living, as well as Garden and Gun Magazine. At these services, the University Choir performs with special guest instrumentalists and often premiers works that have been composed especially for the choir.
As an active touring ensemble, the choir has performed extensively throughout the southeastern United States as well as Colorado, New York, and Canada. Since 1979, the choir has made more than ten tours of England, singing the service of Choral Evensong in more than 20 cathedrals and abbey churches. The choir is excited to continue this tradition this March by performing throughout the South Central United States, with tour stops in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
Selections for this performance include works by Leighton, Sumsion, Howells, Wood, Gardiner, Ireland, and Bainton. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please see the University Choir’s website or contact the event location. Many thanks to those who have assisted in the promotion and financing of this tour.