Gospel Summit: Combining talents of community and university
by Sherrie Norris
A summit can be described as a meeting with a prearranged agenda, a highest point of a mountain or the highest attainable level of achievement.
Imagine what's in store when a gospel summit takes place in Boone next weekend.
The two-day event, hosted by Boone United Methodist Church, begins with a three-hour rehearsal at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 and culminates with a 3 p.m. summit choir concert on Sunday, Oct. 21.
The Saturday assembly will include a practice session with the Appalachian State University Gospel Choir and a workshop led by the members of the Hayes School of Music's choral faculty: Keith McCutchen, Priscilla Porterfield and Steve Hopkins.
On Saturday, participants will also receive a brief history of gospel music, information on how to incorporate gospel selections into worship service, as well as vocal tips and training exercises from Porterfield.
It's no secret that the ASU Gospel Choir has been a staple on campus and in the Boone community for many years, forming relationships with many churches and organizations throughout the community.
"We want to engage in an experience that allows for a behind-the-scene experience and a format for study and discussion of gospel music," McCutchen said. "The summit offers the opportunity to experience the rehearsal process and also the experience of building community that comes as a result of singing this music."
In addition to the gospel choir, McCutchen also directs the Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Men's Glee Club at ASU.
He received his master's in choral conducting from the University of Minnesota and is working to complete his doctorate of musical arts from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music.
McCutchen's choral compositions have been recorded by The American Spiritual Ensemble, the St. Olaf Choir and the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir. He has traveled and performed internationally as a pianist and arranger with the American Spiritual Ensemble.
Under a national endowment grant in 1998, McCutchen was commissioned to write "Spiritual Medley" for a community choir and jazz quintet, combining elements of gospel and jazz. He was accompanied by jazz artists, pianist Kenny Barron, the late saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Carl Allen.
Porterfield is the recipient of several awards and fellowships that have taken her for study and performance to the Carmel, Calif. Bach Festival, the Tanglewood Music Festival and the Aspen Music Festival.
She was a national finalist in the Music Teacher's National Association Collegiate Artist Awards, the winner of the Toledo Opera Young Artists Competition and has twice been a winner in the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions.
Porterfield has portrayed such varied roles as Dorabella, Ottavia, Meg Page, Hansel and Baba. She has sung with the Toledo Opera, the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Ohio Light Opera. Her staged repertoire also extends to the lighter vein, having performed comic roles in the operettas of Offenbach and Sullivan.
Equally as versatile within the concert repertoire, she sings regularly with chamber music groups and orchestras throughout the state, as well as the Midwest.
Her recent interest in the Anglo-American ballad and its influence on the Appalachian region resulted in a travel grant to sing a series of recitals in Britain. She was invited to sing and lecture at the Elphinstone Institute of the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland.
She also holds a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Michigan.
Porterfield has directed The Appalachian Treble Choir since 1991 and had led hundreds of women through many different styles of choral literature and performances around campus and throughout the state.
Hopkins has been the director of choral activities in the Hayes School of Music at ASU since 1992. He conducts the chamber singers and university singers and teaches choral conducting, choral techniques and choral literature at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
His previous teaching experience includes two years as director of choral activities at West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas, and seven years of public school teaching in Tennessee and Texas.
A native of Paris, Tenn., Hopkins holds a doctorate in musical arts and a master's in choral conducting from the University of Texas at Austin; he received his bachelor's degree in music from Murray State University. He is a member of Music Educators National Conference and the American Choral Directors Association and has contributed articles to the Choral Journal.
Hopkins conducted the University Singers of Appalachian in performance at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association. The singers also performed under his direction at the ACDA Southern Division Convention in Nashville in 2004. A frequent guest clinician and adjudicator, Hopkins is also an active composer and arranger. His compositions "Jonah!" and "Dear John, Dear John," have been published by Hinshaw Music Inc.
Hopkins has served as director of choral activities for Cannon Music Camp since 1993 and has been camp director since the 2001 camp session.
The summit workshop and concert are free and open to community members, pastors, choir directors, worship leaders, choir members and praise teams.
The gospel choir will accept donations and sponsorships for upcoming events and scholarships.
Anyone who loves to sing is invited to join the celebrated gospel choir for this unique event at the church located on New Market Boulevard, off Hwy. 421 East in Boone.
For more information, contact Ronnie Wise at (email@example.com) or call Boone United Methodist Church at (828) 264-6090.