Clarksville, TN – On a recent February afternoon, Dr. Korre Foster, Austin Peay State University associate professor of music, sat in his office, looking surprisingly alert. It’s been a busy year for the University’s famed choral program, and with a raise of his eyebrows, Foster said he intends to maintain its strong reputation.
“We continue to become more well known,” he said. “Schools from Memphis want to come three hours just to perform here with us.”
That’s what’s going to happen on April 4th, when students form Soulsville Charter School in Memphis and students from Jackson State Community College visit campus for the Big Sing.
The two choirs will arrive at Austin Peay that morning and spend the day meeting with APSU students and rehearsing for the evening’s performance.
At 5:30pm that night, the choirs will join the APSU choral ensembles for a performance that is free and open to the public.
The event requires a lot of logistical preparation, but Foster’s busy year of maintaining the choral program’s reputation began long before this spring semester. It started last May, when he returned to his hometown of Maple Park, Illinois, where he rehearsed with his old choir at Kaneland High School. That evening, during the school’s annual music awards, several Maple Park residents learned about APSU when Foster was inducted into the Kaneland High School Hall of Fame.
A little more than a month later, he traveled to the United Kingdom as an invited performer at the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute. At the annual symposium, which takes place at both Oxford and Cambridge, Foster performed with the event’s professional choir.
“It was both satisfying and demanding,” he said. “There were more than 40 compositions to be performed in a week, both in Oxford and Cambridge.”
After providing the Austin Peay choral program with some international exposure, Foster returned to campus to begin the academic year. During the fall semester, more than 500 middle and high school students visited Austin Peay for the program’s Choir Fest, and in December, the University Choir, the Chamber Singers and Governors Singers celebrated the state’s musical heritage with the two-night Tennessee Holiday Dinner.
After a brief winter break, the choral program geared up again for a busy spring semester. In February, the University Choir performed as part of Austin Peay’s annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” In between rehearsals and teaching, Foster also prepared a group of students for a trip to Kentucky.
“Some of our students are attending the American Choral Directors Association Conference in Louisville,” he said. “It’s extremely important for them to attend because they’ll be exposed to the highest level of choral performance.”
This March, Foster and his students will then travel throughout Middle Tennessee for the annual Chamber Singers Tour. The tour will begin in Clarksville with a 7:00pm performance at Madison Street United Methodist Church.
The other performances, which are free and open to the public, include:
- 7:30pm, March 3th, First United Methodist Church in Dyersburg,
- 7:00pm, March 4th, Rehoboth Methodist Church in Gallatin, and
- 7:00pm, March 5th, First United Methodist Church in Springfield.
“We’re calling it a Tennessee Tour,” Foster said. “And it’s a great recruiting opportunity for us.”