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Men's Four-Part Harmony "Just Melts Me"

MURFREESBORO, Tenn, (WMOT)  --  Nashville’s David Lipscomb University recently played host to five men’s high school choruses from all across the mid-state.

Brenda Williams is the Choral Director at Riverdale High in Murfreesboro. Her men’s chorus is a relatively new addition, and one that’s near and dear to her heart

“I love to hear a good men’s chorus in four-part harmony’” Williams said. “It just melts me. I absolutely love it. I mean I love a mixed chorus, but there’s just something about a men’s four part harmony.”

During the festival, Williams’ singers had a chance to blend their voices with those of the other choruses in attendance. She calls the experience a unique opportunity for her students to grow as musicians.

“It’s one of the healthiest things we do during the year…is to take them outside the school, outside the classroom to participate in a festival where they get to blend their voices with other guys who are going through the same things,” Williams said.

Sam Hearn is a senior at Lipscomb Academy and just one among nearly 100 choristers participating in the festival. He said it was encouraging to know that so many young men share his interest.

  “It’s also not always seen as a manly thing to sing,”Hearn noted. “So there’s something about hearing a man and a male chorus of voices sing that’s sort of more interesting to listen to. It’s like man exploring, or a man exploring part of himself that usually in this culture we overlook.”

Composer Tim Takach was on hand for the festival. He was invited to create much of the music the chorus members performed during the event. Takach grew up in Minnesota and attended a small high school with a small choir. He was a little envious of the chance the participants had to bond with so many peers who share a passion for music.

“It’s a very unique age for men to experience as their growing up and changing,” Takach explained.  “Through choral music there are things that you can say out loud in a choir onstage that you would never be able to say with your friends walking around the hallways or sitting with your peers. So it’s a very powerful thing being able to say those things on stage.”

For the Lipscomb festival Takach composed a challenging piece called “Little Blades of Grass.” It was inspired by a Stephen Crane poem about humility entitled “In Heaven.”

“Writing for voice is not something that all composers do well; just because it’s a very unique instrument and there’s a lot of different characteristics that you have to embrace to write for voices, but it’s something I really love and I feel very lucky that there’s enough work coming my way to make it a reality,Takach said.”

After practicing together throughout the day the choruses from Nashville, Murfreesboro, White House, Gallatin, and Hendersonville joined the Lipscomb ChamberMen chorus to perform for an appreciative evening audience on campus.