KCC to premiere first alma mater in College history at April 21 concert

Choir members sing at the "Singing in the Spring" concert in 2023.

Kellogg Community College this spring for the first time in the College’s nearly 70-year history has an official alma mater.

An alma mater – which in Latin means “nourishing mother” – is an official college song or anthem. KCC’s new alma mater, an original work aptly titled “Alma Mater KCC: Beacon of Hope,” was produced over the past several months, with words by KCC English professor Ronald E. Davis, music composed by Music Area Coordinator and Vocal Arts Director Dr. Gerald Case-Blanchard, and arrangement by longtime KCC music instructor Dr. Mark Wells.

The song will be presented for the first time at the College’s upcoming “Singing in the Spring” concert, starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Battle Creek. It will also be sung by Case-Blanchard, accompanied by Nancy Brown on keyboard, at the College’s upcoming Commencement Ceremony May 9 at Kellogg Arena.

The lyrics – under wraps until the official premiere – focus on the concept of the College as a shining beacon on a hill, noting its ongoing service to community and legacy as an educational institution giving life to the dreams of generations of students. A strong refrain – “Alma mater, KCC” – is repeated throughout.

“Kellogg Community College has defined the learning and professional experiences of countless students,” author Davis said. “After more than 20 years of service to the College, I reflect upon the numerous individuals in Calhoun County who I’ve met and who have said they attended school at KCC and have appreciated the experience. Nearly all of them recount a favorite professor with a warm memory, or an expression of gratitude. With them in mind, and faculty with whom I’ve had the privilege and honor to work, I’ve channeled the words of this alma mater.”

The music presents an original traditional, yet elegant melody conceptually familiar enough for the layperson singing along to anticipate and participate in, yet regal enough in an institutional context to feel anthemically formal.

Composer and project coordinator Case-Blanchard said he sought to write something which “truly expressed from a musical standpoint the very elements that represent who we are as Bruins and our 100% commitment to our charge as an institution of higher learning.”

“I am so grateful to Dr. Paul Watson and the KCC Board of Trustees for placing their trust in me and my musical colleagues to produce a piece of music that would be truly reflective of who we are as a caring, nurturing, community-focused institution of higher learning,” Case-Blanchard said. “I believe we have created a final product that all Bruins, past, present and future, can celebrate and have a sense of pride in.”

Wells arranged Case-Blanchard’s work into a key functional for a variety of vocal abilities, arranging both for solo voice and choirs. Further instrumental arrangement by KCC Jazz Band Director Eric Campbell is also in the works.

“The harmonization seemed to reveal itself quite naturally in the process of thinking through the possibilities inherent in both the shape and structure of the melody,” Wells said. “Initially this melody was presented to me in a lower key. From the first copy of the melody that I saw, my thought was to raise the key to a higher one that would easier for more people to participate. As the vocal range of the melody was not too wide, this increased the range of possible tonal centers, so that the arrangement of the melody was neither too high nor too low for most singers.”

KCC President Dr. Paul Watson called the alma mater “a legacy achievement that presents the College as the pride and reflection of the communities it serves.”

“We’re thankful to our talented faculty for creating such an apt and beautiful statement that captures our strong community-focused tradition while also presenting a clear focus on our unwavering commitment as we continue ever forward,” Watson said. “Kellogg Community College has served as a true beacon of hope for generations of students, educating our Bruin family in humble pride. Yet as stated so well in the words of this new song, ‘Loyal scholars we march on,’ ready to serve generations more.”

Both the upcoming “Singing in the Spring” concert, where the alma mater will premiere, and KCC’s upcoming Commencement Ceremony are free events open to the public. For more information about each event, visit kellogg.edu/events.

For more information about “Alma Mater KCC” or the premiere of the song at the upcoming concert, contact Case-Blanchard at case-blanchardg@kellogg.edu or 269-565-7859. Author Davis can be reached for comment at davisr@kellogg.edu or 269-565-7870.

For more news about Kellogg Community College, view our latest press releases online at https://daily.kellogg.edu/category/news-releases.