Young MECCA singers share talents with other arts organizations12.04.2005
During the 2005 holiday season, hundreds of Tri-Cities area residents will enjoy the talents of the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy (MECCA).
Consisting of the East Tennessee Children's Choir (ETCC) and the Highlands Youth Ensemble (HYE), MECCA scheduled five concerts in Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City. But audiences at holiday productions by other arts groups likely will hear and see some MECCA members performing there, too.
Avery Deakins, in his second year as a member of the ETCC, landed the lead role of Amahl in ETSU's production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. Several boys from the ETCC auditioned and were seriously considered for the part.
Tessa Hutson, Valerie Lott, and Sarah Smith, all in their third years with the ETCC, received parts in Barter Theatre's Miracle on 34th Street. In fact, ETCC girls received three out of four of the parts. Unfortunately, Hutson had to withdraw from the production due to a family illness.
Martha Eason, a four-year member of the HYE, and former HYE member Chris Jennings for the second year are portraying Mary and Joseph searching for a room in an inn in downtown Bristol's Journey's End, .
Members of the HYE as well as members of the ETCC were chosen to sing for the lighting of the Abingdon Christmas tree in front of the Martha Washington Inn; for the joint December meeting of the Abingdon Rotary and Kiwanis clubs; and for the December meeting of the Abingdon Newcomers Club.
Additionally, several members of the ETCC and the HYE were selected to participate in the children's and youth choirs that will perform at the national conference of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, which will be held in March 2006 in Charlotte, NC. To be selected for participation, each student must complete an audition tape showing his or her ability to sing musical scales as well as a prepared piece. Several hundred vocal students from around the United States audition each year for the chance to participate in these choirs.
ETCC members who will participate in the choirs are , Claire Morison, Heidi Faust, Ramsey Gross, Annie Hopson and Grace Grunstra. Amanda Minutolo was selected as an alternate. HYE members who will participate are Rachel Grunstra and Sarah Compton.
The HYE was accepted to participate in the Heritage Music Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The group, which is now in its third year, was selected for the festival based on a CD recording of the group's spring 2005 concert. Around 10 members of the HYE will be able to travel to New York to participate in the festival in March.
"These accomplishments beyond the work of the East Tennessee Children's Choir and the Highlands Youth Ensemble show that these children and young people are not only talented musicians, but they also show that these young people are dedicated and committed to performing quality music," said Beth McCoy, artistic director of MECCA and conductor of both groups.
Area children and youth who would like to become a part of MECCA, and gain the opportunity to further their musical education, are invited to audition for the East Tennessee Children's Choir, which is open to fourth- through seventh-grade students, or for the Highlands Youth Ensemble, which is open to grades 8-12.
McCoy is a diaconal minister of music in the United Methodist Church. She holds a master's degree in music education from Peabody of Vanderbilt University and is a published author and composer. She teaches private piano and vocal lessons and is in frequent demand as a clinician and adjudicator.
The accompanist for both the ETCC and the HYE is Jane DeLoach Morison, the director of the School of Music at Sullins Academy in Bristol, Va., where she maintains a piano and Kindermusik studio. She also is an active performer and adjudicator.
For more information, call 423-360-3201 or go to: www.meccacademy.org.