CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In early February, Dr. Korre Foster, director of choral activities at Austin Peay State University, turned on his computer to watch a live broadcast of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (TMC). The acclaimed, 100-year-old choir is one of the largest and most respected choral organizations in Canada, but that evening, Foster was more interested in watching one of the guest conductors – APSU graduate student Zach Thompson.
“His being there gives recognition to what students in our program are doing, and the experiences they’re having,” Foster said.
Thompson, a Pennsylvania native, was one of only five choral conducting students from across the United States and Canada to be selected for the TMC’s Fourth Annual Choral Conductors Symposium. He spent five days in Canada, studying under famed conductor Noel Edison and working with the TMC.
“Every day, we had an hour of podium time, which is rare; especially with these professional ensembles,” Thompson said. “Every single little movement, they responded to.”
Thompson traveled south from Pennsylvania to Tennessee two years ago because he knew he’d get more conducting experience at APSU than in other graduate programs. He serves as assistant conductor of the APSU University Choir and Chamber Singers, and, in addition to conducting during rehearsals, he gets to lead one or two pieces during choral concerts.
“That’s a lot of podium time, which is one of the reasons why I chose APSU,” he said. “Other universities, you barely get any.”
Thompson’s participation in the international symposium is another example of the notoriety the APSU choral activities program has received in recent years. In September, the University’s Chamber Singers were selected to perform at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, and this April, that choral ensemble will sing at the Cannon Center in Memphis for the Tennessee Music Education Association’s annual conference.
“The Chamber Singers were selected through a peer-review process to perform at it, and we’re the only collegiate mixed ensemble going,” Foster said. “We’ll be on that stage, presenting our entire program. One of our fortes is the great variety of our repertoire. We will sing American music, but we will also sing music in Hebrew, Russian, Latin and Tamil.”
Tamil is a language spoken in South India, and for that choral piece, members of the APSU dance program will perform original choreography to the music.
Later this spring, APSU choral activities will return home to host a local concert in the campus’ Mabry Concert Hall. Information on that event will be available in the next few weeks. For more information on the APSU choral program, contact Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org .