JUTN Tour Choir evolves into University Choir

KNOXVILLE — The choir that Johnson University Tennessee has known as Tour Choir for the last several years will be replaced with the University Choir this May.

Brent Weaver, the director of the worship program, explained the function of the choir.

“Tour Choir is the traveling choir representative of the University,” Weaver said. “It travels to churches to participate with the church as a worship choir. When we travel to events we sing either concerts or we sing music that is tailored to whatever the event or the conference is.”

Weaver said that the choir has evolved over the years.

“I believe the Johnson Bible College Choir took its first lengthy tour in 1950 traveling to churches in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio during the Bell presidency,” Weaver said. “For most years between 1950 and 1986 the Johnson choir functioned as a concert choir during the fall semester and a touring choir during the spring semester.”

Weaver said that after 1986, Tour Choir continued to grow and change.

“In 1987 the choir starting traveling more frequently on weekends in the fall and spring semesters under the direction of Dr. Jill Allen [Lagerberg],” Weaver said. “Since that time the traveling choir has been identified as the Chamber Choir, Traveling Choir, Gospel Choir and, most recently, Tour Choir.”

Weaver said that because of student’s time restrictions, Tour Choir will be ending at the end of the semester.

“We recognize we needed a choir that had less of a traveling tour component because we had students on the worship ministry program and music education program who had weekend commitments,” Weaver said. “The worship ministry program has students who had internships or those who had weekend ministries with local churches who are unable to travel and that presented a challenge to participate.”

The University Choir that will begin in the fall semester will have less of a travel commitment so the students who travel on the weekends will be able to participate in choir.

Weaver said that lack of adequate transportation for members and equipment is another reason hindering Tour Choir from continuing.

“With changes in insurance regulations, there are few students who are able to drive for us which makes it difficult with a large group,” Weaver said. “The insurance people have also said that we can no longer put a trailer on the back of a passenger van, and for years that is what we have done.

Weaver said the trailer was used to carry everyone’s luggage, equipment, choir risers and instruments.

Weaver plans to implement the University Choir for two or three years to make sure it works.

“The new University Choir is going to have a balanced curriculum between collegiate and classical/traditional music and also worship/gospel music as well,” Weaver said. “If it is not supporting both programs we will need to add ensembles down the road.”

Weaver said he hopes to be able to invite the community to participate in University Choir but he knows that practice times will be an obstacle.

“We are considering, with the University Choir, to find an evening to practice so we can encourage community support,” Weaver said. “I would love for more faculty, staff, or even friends of the University to be involved.”

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