Calling All Songwriters
Smith alumnae who were members of the glee club, chamber singers, chorale or freshman choirs, as they were once known, are legendary for their loyalty to that choral experience. Indeed, about 20 of them are going on a nostalgic trip this spring when they accompany the chamber singers on their 50th anniversary tour, which will feature concerts in London, Florence and Como. The tour will be preceded by chamber singers performances at the Martin Luther King Elementary School in Washington, D.C., on May 29 and, with the MLK school's choir, at a Washington alumnae club event to be held at the Howard University Law School chapel at 7 p.m. The chamber singers will also perform on May 30 with the Towson University choirs at Towson University at 3 p.m.
All this alumnae interest has inspired Jonathan Hirsh, director of Smith's orchestra, glee club and chamber singers, to plan a gala Choral Alumnae Homecoming Weekend, cosponsored with the Alumnae Association, in November. Central to the weekend will be the "New Smith College Songs Contest," which encourages Smith students and alumnae to put on their composer hats; the winning entries will be premiered during the homecoming weekend. "We're always looking for new Smith songs to add to our repertoire, particularly pieces we can sing at traditional events like Opening Convocation and Rally Day," says Hirsh. "We hope that this contest will bring us some lively new material."
All contest entries must conform to the following guidelines: Each must be submitted in triplicate; songs must be for one to four parts of women's voices (recommended range is from the G below middle C at the lowest to the G one octave and a fifth above middle C); entries may be either unaccompanied or with piano accompaniment. Particularly encouraged will be up-tempo, nonalma mater songs; songs dealing with athletics; and humorous songs.
Events of the choral homecoming weekend, which has been planned as a tribute to former choral director Iva Dee Hiatt, will begin on November 9 with a concert by soprano Jane Bryden, who has this year been named Iva Dee Hiatt Professor of Music. During her 31-year tenure as a Smith music professor and choral director, Hiatt, who died in 1980, became what former President Jill Conway called "the presiding genius of choral music at Smith."
On November 10 the program continues with a brunch, a rehearsal of the successful song competition entries and an evening performance of the new songs, sung by alumnae and current Smith singers as part of the glee club's traditional Autumn Serenade.
"I wanted to do this choral alumnae homecoming event because I feel that it is important for current students to realize that they are part of a smaller family within the larger Smith community and to help alumnae to feel more connected to the college and the choral and orchestral program," says Hirsh. "I hope it will become an annual event."
The deadline for submission of contest entries is September 1. For further information, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries should be addressed to Smith College Song Contest, attn: Jonathan Hirsh, Music Department, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063.
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