The Ole Miss choir will be performing songs they’ve been practicing all semester at their annual fall choral concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at North Oxford Baptist Church.
The choral concert will have a women’s ensemble, women’s glee, men’s glee and concert singers. Graduate students Stellah Mbugua and Eric Johnson will be conducting along with faculty staff Debra Spurgeon and Don Trott.
Stellah Mbugua, who is from Nairobi, Kenya, has being singing in a choir since she was 5 years old. She attended a high school that offered music, which is uncommon in Kenya, so Mbugua grew up participating competitively in choir. Her choir came for a United States tour and performed here at the university, and Mbugua fell in love with the environment after her “fantastic” interaction with students. She has been here since August, and Thursday night, Mbugua will be conducting for the women’s ensemble.
“That’s when I best consume music, and that’s when I best share my music with other people,” she said.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, Mbugua realized she felt “fulfilled” when conducting choral music, which helped her decide that conducting is what she wanted to do.
“It’s the consecutiveness with the people involved. It’s being in the same moment at the same time, doing the same thing. That one song you’re working on at that time, all of you are in need,” Mbugua said.
Johnson is from Madison, North Carolina, and will conduct “Universal Song” by Daniel Hall for the women’s glee. Johnson said the song is an old American shape note tune that comes out of an early American tradition of how they used to teach music rather than the normal quarter, half, and whole note that is commonly known and used today. Johnson first heard this piece in 2009 when it premiered. Ever since, he said he wanted to conduct it, and now he finally has the chance to do so.
Johnson started singing at a very young age and sang all the way through high school. He taught middle school in North Carolina for 10 years. This is Johnson’s second year working with a college choir.
“I plan to hopefully teach at the college level somewhere, be a choral music teacher educator and work with the teaching of teachers, which is part of what I do here with my PhD with the choir’s work,” Johnson said.
Debra Spurgeon is also going to be conducting the women’s glee. Spurgeon said that the concert will be “very diverse” because there will be a lot of different style periods of music as well as languages.
“Having different choirs like the men’s chorus, the women’s chorus, and then having a mixed chorus – that is a whole different oral dynamic,” Spurgeon said.
Don Trott will conduct the men’s glee. Trott spent a lot of time choosing the patriotic songs the men’s chorus will sing during the summer and spring, and said they are all chosen with a purpose.
Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for students.