A! Magazine for the Arts

Beth McCoy, left, has handed the director's baton to Jane Morison.

Beth McCoy, left, has handed the director's baton to Jane Morison.

New Director, New Opportunities for Children's Choral Academy

January 27, 2009

Jane DeLoach Morison recently accepted the position of artistic director of the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy. She will direct the East Tennessee Children's Choir, Da Capo Choir and the Highlands Youth Ensemble. She is joined by Patty Denmark, Valerie Pickard and Angee Woody in the Chorister program.

Morison said, "It is such an honor to work with these fabulous young musicians. I think what we do is all about building community -- with everyone. And if we can start when people are young, then there is hope for a brighter future. In the MECCA program, we are building community through music. We work as a team, but not in a competitive way. Through mutual respect and support, we work together to create something of beauty. Then we are blessed to be able to share that beauty, through music, with our larger community, in this region and beyond."

She continued, "We have the opportunity through music to learn about the rest of the world and how, though separated by distance, we all have the same hopes and dreams for our children. Music not only becomes our common language, it also helps us learn to respect and nurture our worldwide family. We can also teach children early on that by our holding them to high standards they can become high achievers. They feel a tremendous sense of pride in a job well done, and to quote John Rutter, "the commitment one learns through music is a highly transportable virtue!'"

Beth Perkinson McCoy served MECCA as Artistic Director for 15 years. Effective January 1, she accepted an emeritus position on the board of directors. McCoy shaped MECCA's development from the ETCC to the full program today. Under McCoy's direction, ETCC sang in the Continental Harmony Millennium Project, sang numerous times with area symphonies, produced its own musical and sang annually at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. Also under her leadership, the HYE sang at Carnegie Hall, competed in the 20th International Chamber Choir Competition and hosted the P?csi Hungarian Choir.

For more information about MECCA or to audition for one of its choirs, go to www.meccacademy.org or e-mail director@meccacademy.org.

Upcoming Performances

Members of the Da Capo Choir and East Tennessee Children's Choir will perform during Barter Theatre's production of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Yhe Highlands Youth Ensemble will present its third annual Valentine Cabaret Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 7 p.m. on Barter's Stage II. The program will include love songs, great "standards' and Broadway hits. There will also be a live "song' auction. Admission by donation. Proceeds will kick off the choir's fund-raising for a return trip to Hungary in 2010 when P?cs will be named the "European City of Culture." That same summer, HYE is also hoping to participate in the Mozart International Choral Festival to be held in Mozart's home of Salzburg, Austria.

MECCA Receives Trust Fund Assets

MECCA has been given the assets of the Patty Miller Trust Fund. The donation of $20,000 was made by Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Miller. The Trust Fund was established at the time of Patty Miller's death. Since 1994, approximately $12,000 has been distributed in scholarship monies to high school students in Washington County, Va.

In donating the trust fund to MECCA, Dr. Miller said, "Patty enjoyed her own experience in piano and band and expressed the hope that she could help others share in similar experiences."

About the Choirs

MECCA's full program consists of Choristers in Greeneville, Kingsport and Bristol for second and third graders; the East Tennessee Children's Choir for fourth through sixth graders; Da Capo Choir for eighth and ninth graders treble singers; and the Highlands Youth Ensemble for high school students.

All MECCA choirs are Kod?ly-based choral programs that emphasize learning to read music through solfege (an ear training method), teaching proper vocal techniques and offering opportunities for youth to sing high-caliber music, both solo and ensemble, in outstanding venues. Zoltán Kodály was a music educator who raised the level of musicality throughout Hungary using folksongs taught through solfege.

For information about auditioning for any of MECCA's choirs, call 276-645-5785 or visit www.meccacademy.org.

About the New Director

Jane Morison received her Bachelor of Music Education (summa cum laude) from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and her Master of Music degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G). She has also studied at L'acad?mie de musique de Sion in Switzerland.

At ETSU, Morison studied choral conducting with Thomas Jenrette, piano with Donald Conflenti, and voice with Robert LaPella. The recipient of a four-year Floyd Cramer performance scholarship, she was twice named Most Outstanding Music Student. A member of the Delta Omicron music fraternity, she was also named to the academic honor society of Phi Kappa Phi.

At UNC-G, Morison studied piano with Joseph DiPiazza and sang in ensembles under the direction of Richard Cox and Hillary Apfelstadt. It was at UNC-G that she was inducted into the musical honor society of Pi Kappa Lambda. She has also studied piano with Barbara Lister-Sink and Clifton Matthews.

For nine years Morison was on the faculty of the South Park Music School in Charlotte, N.C. While living in Charlotte, she taught at Central Piedmont Community College, was a guest lecturer at Winthrop University, and twice served on the faculty of the UNC-G summer music camp.

While a member of the North Carolina Music Teachers Association, she was awarded the Certificate of Professional Advancement. She also holds permanent national certification with the Music Teachers National Association. She served as president of the Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum and also held the office of state secretary for NCMTA.

Morison is a member of the Organization of American Kod?ly Educators, American Choral Directors Association, Music Teachers National Association, and National Federation of Music Clubs (Bristol Music Club).

She serves on the faculty of both the Virginia Suzuki Institute at Emory and Henry College and the Summer Piano Camp at ETSU. A frequent adjudicator, accompanist, recitalist and clinician, she is a licensed Kindermusik teacher and maintains a private piano studio.