Chattanooga Now UTC Chamber Singers hosting CD release concert

Chattanooga Now UTC Chamber Singers hosting CD release concert

March 20th, 2019 by Susan Pierce in Chattnow Music

Composer Ethan McGrath listens as the UTC Chamber Singers record his work on "Silver Songs." (Angela Foster/UTC contributed photo)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: “Silver Songs” CD Release Concert

› Where: First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave.

› When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22

› Admission: Free

› For more information: 423-425-4601

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Chamber Singers recently recorded 22 original works arranged by UTC alumnus and Collegdale resident Ethan McGrath. On Friday night, March 22, the singers will celebrate the release of that new CD, "Silver Songs," with a concert in First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave.

McGrath will be in attendance at the free concert, serving as pianist/organist for some numbers and conducting others.

"I'm going to do something very different and give CDs to the first 200 people who come to the concert," says Dr. Kevin Ford, UTC choral director. "The CDs themselves will be the concert programs (using the track list). We will take a voluntary collection from the concert audience that will go to reducing the cost of the Ireland tour in May for the students."

Ford says the CD was funded, in part, with an ArtsBuild Community Cultural Connections Grant.

After McGrath graduated from UTC, he earned a master's degree from Cambridge and his work has been published in England, Germany and the United States.

"He has won composition competitions in Poland, and his works have been performed by some outstanding professional choruses," says Ford.

"Basically, his career is starting to take off. His compositions are very melodic and beautiful and would be more in the neo-Romantic vein of compositions. We premiered several of his pieces when he was a student, but his work now is much more mature and he is writing with a unique voice now."

McGrath says "Silver Songs" was inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Amy Carmichael, Elinor Wylie and his friend Sarah Tullock, a fellow UTC alum.

Poems such as Dickinson's "Hope Is the Thing With Feathers" along with Rossetti's "A Birthday" and Wylie's "Velvet Shoes" provide the lyrics to McGrath's songs.

"It's a joy to hear the things I've concocted on paper in my room being translated into real sounds sung by real people," says McGrath. "Kevin Ford has been very supportive of my work ever since my time as a student at UTC. He's always been happy to have me attend rehearsals and be a part of the process."

Friday night's concert will feature UTC soloists Julia Nydam, Christine Palisoc and a duet with Nydam and Morgan Ferrell. There will also be a featured trio of Ferrel, Makayla Kyle and Benjamin Brooks.

UTC Chamber Singers is the university's most select choir. The choir previously recorded two albums of spirituals and choral music by composer, conductor, pianist and retired UTC professor Roland M. Carter.

Although the choir is no stranger to recording music, the creative process for "Silver Songs" has served as a learning experience, says Ford.

"The singers are learning about the whole process of making a recording from the literature preparation to the tediousness of the actual recording process — with constant repetitions, stopping and restarting for helicopters and planes flying overhead or children playing outside the building, but loud enough to be heard inside," he explains.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.