KCC “Singing in the Spring” concert returns to Battle Creek for first time since 2019

Kellogg Community College’s annual “Singing in the Spring” concert returns to Battle Creek for the first time since 2019 this month for a full choral and instrumental experience celebrating nearly seven decades of music-making at KCC.

KCC’s “Singing in the Spring 2023: Making Our Musical Garden Grow” concert will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 23, at First Presbyterian Church, 111 Capital Ave. NE in Battle Creek. The event will feature more than 70 performers, including members from the College’s three residential choirs, concert and jazz bands, and special student and faculty performers.

The event is free and open to the public, though a freewill offering will be collected to support future music programming and initiatives at the College, including a planned concert tour of Austria in 2025.

KCC Music Area Coordinator and Vocal Arts Director Dr. Gerald Case-Blanchard said the event is akin to one originally planned to celebrate the College’s – and the choral program’s – 65th anniversary in 2020, which was derailed due to COVID-19. The College choirs began performing live again last year, but this will be the first full-fledged performance with all KCC choirs and bands together again in Battle Creek since before the pandemic.

Case-Blanchard said the concert will include a mix of the old and the new, honoring the legacy of music at KCC while also celebrating new beginnings.

“This is really the celebration that I wanted to have,” Case-Blanchard said. “I pulled things from years past, things that we’ve taken on tour, and then I brought in a whole bunch of new things.”

The concert will open, for example, with pre-concert music from KCC’s Jazz Band under the direction of new Director Eric Campbell, followed by remarks from the Rev. Lorenzo Small – who started his tenure as lead pastor of First Presbyterian this month – and newly appointed KCC President Dr. Paul R. Watson II.

Performances will follow by the KCC Choral Union and Branch County Community Chorus, directed by Case-Blanchard with accompanist Nancy Brown; the Kellogg Singers, conducted by Campbell and accompanied by Brown; the KCC Concert Band under the direction of new Director Christopher Momcilovich; the Jazz Band and Campbell; and faculty guest artist soprano Betty Picard.

The concert will close with English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 1920 composition, “O Clap Your Hands,” which was performed by the choirs and the Concert Band at KCC’s 50th anniversary ceremony back in 2007. The performance will be conducted by Momcilovich, who’s written new orchestration for the piece to work in all of the Concert Band’s musicians.

“There’s a lot of newness in there that’s tied to our history,” Case-Blanchard said.

The finale will also give the audience a chance to experience the venue’s prestigious organ, which Case-Blanchard said enthusiasts will recognize as the largest in Battle Creek by pipes.

“You’ll hear it in the finale,” he said. “The walls will definitely vibrate. It’s going to be an awesome piece.”

The concert program will be offered in two parts, with the first consisting of pre-concert material, welcome remarks and mostly sacred/religious repertoire from the 18th century or earlier. The second part consists of more contemporary pieces ranging from European Renaissance through early American folk music, kicking off with performances from student honor soloists, pianist Zachary Franklin and saxophonist Chifumi Tsukagoshi.

“These students were selected because of their talent and their academic achievements,” Case-Blanchard said. “They are so outstanding. This is a great opportunity to give those students who are advanced performers an opportunity to really perform in front of a large audience and to be challenged. The repertoire they’re doing is really challenging.”

Additional student soloists include singers Jessica Fagan and Patrick Lucas.

For more information about the concert or other music programming at the College, contact Case-Blanchard at case-blanchardg@kellogg.edu or 269-565-7859.

About Music at Kellogg Community College

KCC’s Arts and Communication Department offers a robust Music Program including an Associate of Arts degree with a Music concentration and certificates in Music Enrichment and Sacred Music. Additional music opportunities for students and community members offered through the College include individualized voice and instrument lessons, master classes, student recitals, an annual Opera Workshop and other music initiatives, including youth performance camps.

The College also host three residential choirs, including the Branch County Community Chorus, the Concentus Vocal Ensemble and the Kellogg Singers – which perform together as the KCC Choral Union – as well as resident Concert and Jazz bands.

In addition to performing regularly in its home state of Michigan, the KCC Choral Union has performed nationally at major venues in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and performed international concert tours of Ireland and Italy in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

KCC choirs have opened for several internationally renowned musicians, including Grammy Award-winning musical groups Take 6 and Sweet Honey in the Rock, and regularly collaborate with major musical organizations including the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra, the Haydn Festival Orchestra, the Monroe Community Chorale and Symphony and the Sacred Music Festival of Kalamazoo.

For more information, visit kellogg.edu/music.

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