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Mountain Empire Children’s Choral Academy starting 26th season on a high note

Jessica Fischer • Aug 21, 2013 at 9:15 AM

The choirs of the Mountain Empire Children’s Choral Academy will celebrate their 26th anniversary season this year by performing concerts, collaborating with area arts organizations and touring both regionally and abroad.

The Highlands Youth Ensemble, MECCA’s premiere SATB ensemble for high school singers, has been invited to participate in the Festival of the Aegean held on the island of Syros, Greece. This two-week residency will see the choir presenting a solo concert as well as participating in two concerts with other choirs from around the world. Young men in the Highlands Youth Ensemble may also sing in the opera chorus of “Rigoletto” as part of the Apollo Theatre’s 150th anniversary season.

The East Tennessee Children’s Choir has been invited to perform at the Tennessee state conference of the American Choral Directors Association. This is the first time in many years that a children’s choir has performed at the event.

“We are so proud of all of our ensembles, and it is a thrill to share them with audiences outside our community,” said Jane DeLoach Morison, MECCA’s artistic director. “Travel is such an extraordinary experience, and I know our young musicians will grow and learn so much as they share their music and their culture, as they sing in fellowship with other musicians and as they rehearse and perform under the direction of world-renowned conductors.”

MECCA choirs will not only be touring outside the region this year, but also presenting a slate of concerts around their own communities. Among those are the annual Christmas collaboration with the Symphony of the Mountains and also a special spring collaboration on Carl Orff’s masterwork “Carmina Burana!”

“Part of our mission is to study and perform the world’s great choral literature, and we are excited to be part of this wonderful collaboration of the area’s best artistic groups,” Morison says.

Another special collaboration this year will be the performance of “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” a new work by Kentaro Sato. This performance with the Milligan College Orchestra, under the director of Dr. Kellie Dubel Brown, will take place Nov. 1 in the Mary B. Martin Auditorium at Milligan’s Seeger Memorial Chapel.

Founded in 1987 as the East Tennessee Children’s Choir by Dr. Carl King, a professor at East Tennessee State University, the organization grew and developed into MECCA under the leadership of Beth Perkinson McCoy. In addition to the East Tennessee Children’s Choir for singers in grades 4-8, MECCA choirs include Choristers (grades 1-3), the Highlands Youth Ensemble (grades 9-12), Da Capo (select ETCC voices in grades 7-8), MECCA Men (high school men) and Bella Voce (high school ladies).

Under Morison’s current leadership, MECCA remains committed to its mission of enriching the lives of youth in the region through a program of vocal music education and through the study and performance of the world’s great choral literature.

MECCA singers are regularly selected to participate in national, regional, state and district honor choirs, and many have been selected as national soloists. MECCA singers have performed at Carnegie Hall (“Requiem,” by John Rutter, in 2010; Field Studies International, 2006; in Hungary (International Chamber Choir Competition, 2007), and have collaborated with Barter Theatre (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” 2009), the East Tennessee State University Chorale (“The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi,” 2010), the Civic Chorale (“Mass of the Children,” 2012), and have performed with the American Boychoir, the Rybinsk (Russia) Girls Chorus, and many other renowned ensembles. MECCA choirs receive yearly invitations to sing for the Biltmore Estate Christmas Candlelight Evenings.

To find out more, call Morison at (276) 645-5785 or email director@meccacademy.org. For a list of this season’s concert dates, visit www.meccacademy.org.

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