Photo by Ivey Goodman
Hailed as "the only current back-to-back national collegiate champions in Alabama"
Our Aeolians took top honors for second straight year as the top choir at an historically black college or university (HBCU) at the November 4 iSing College Choir Scholarship Challenge, at the Reid Temple AME Church, Glenn Dale, MD.
The group's 40 choristers bested finalist choirs from Norfolk State, Bowie State and Howard Universities. The winner of the competition is considered the top vocal ensemble of America's 105 HBCUs.
"Each ensemble was given a total of 10 minutes to present repertoire that showed its versatility," explained director Jason Ferdinand. This year, he continued, we performed:
1. Arranger Stacey Gibbs' "John Saw Dat Numbah";
2. "Shadrach", arranged by Ralph Carmichael. "A visual component was added to this already-difficult arrangement, as a group of Aeolians acted out this Biblical story from the Bible's Old Testament book Daniel, chapters one through three;
3. "Our third selection was our 'secret weapon'. The Nathan Carter arrangement of 'Someday' started the last of our 10-minute competition segment.
"However, right in the middle, we interjected a Latin-flavored arrangement of the gospel classic 'Goin' Up Yonder'. The initial a cappella groove was accompanied by students on percussion instruments and tasteful choreography. "Our band, comprised of Dr. Wayne Bucknor (pianist and music department chairman), Tre Calhoun and Ross Smith, kicked in at the chorus. "To cap it off, we ended with the climax, by returning to the original 'Someday.' "The set went over very well and the students had fun, by overcoming the musical complexity of it all."
This first-place iSing Challenge finish brought with it a $5,000 award for the choir which, in January 2012, will travel to perform in Russia, January 19-23.
"Interestingly, to return to the iSing competition was more so a reflection on our growth as an ensemble," the 1997-99 Aeolian remarked. "We worked harder this year than we did on last year, leaving no stone unturned.
"Execution throughout performances was a challenge initially this semester and preparing for the iSing totally brought about a new, higher level of focus and mentality in our music-making. So it was important to defend it, proving that our students can indeed raise the bar!" Enjoy the Aeolians' award-winning performance online.
On Thursday, November 10, the Aeolians travel to Birmingham, to participate in the American Choral Directors Association Collegiate Festival for Alabama choirs.
"This is a friendly adjudication time together with all choirs. However, our Aeolians will be representing the entire Southern Region at the ACDA conference in Winston Salem in February 2012, - a HUGE honor to be asked to sing on that level."
An upcoming city-wide celebration, "recognizing Huntsville's Aeolians Choir of Oakwood University as the only current back-to-back national collegiate champions in the state of Alabama" is being planned, according to Oakwood spokesman Tim Allston.
The Aeolians' next local performance will be its Annual Fall Concert at the Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath, December 3, at 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
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