Berry Singers perform 60th anniversary concert

Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

hallelujah it's raining men
Comprised of Berry students and alumni, Berry Singers united 125 people at their anniversary concert over Mountain Day weekend. Photos by Caroline Jennings | Campus Carrier

The Berry Singers celebrated their 60th Anniversary on Sunday in the Ford Auditorium. About 125 alumni and current students came together for a concert Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. to sing and share the many memories that were made in Berry’s choirs.

This is the first time that a multigenerational choir of all Berry singers has gathered along with the two other former directors to create a concert celebrating Berry’s choirs.

Dr. Paul Neal, the current director of the Berry Singers, came together with former Berry Singers directors Ross Magoulas and Harry Musselwhite to direct the choir. For the concert, Neal asked each director to direct two pieces from their era of music, while he chose two pieces that were multigenerational and that he knew the choirs had sung before.

“We invited all alumni from all the choirs at Berry to participate,” Neal said. “Anyone who has sung in a choir at Berry at any time during their time at Berry was invited to sing.”

The group participated in several two-hour long rehearsals, lunch meetings and even sang the National Anthem at the football game Saturday night.

Scheduling 125 people for rehearsal wasn’t an easy feat, Neal explained, but he was proud of what they were able to accomplish for the concert.

“It’s been a little hectic with alumni week and Mountain Day, but they have been coming in and working hard,” Neal said. “They have really done a good job.”

Having two former directors come back to direct was an experience that no one will forget. Magoulas directed the Berry Singers from 1965 to 1982, and Musselwhite directed from 1985 to 2015. Both were overjoyed to reunite with their former students and were excited to see how Berry has grown.

“I don’t have to tell a current student or a former student what an extraordinary place this is filled with extraordinary people,” Musselwhite said. “I’m very honored and proud to be a part of that legacy.”

For many of the alumni, this was their first time singing since they graduated from Berry. They came together and not only sang, but told stories from their time here at Berry.

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In the 60 years the Berry Singers has existed, the group has only had three directors, all of which joined together to lead the performance on Sunday.

Alumna Sue Hochstetler graduated in 1981 and remembered the many trips the Berry Singers took while she was still singing under the direction of Magoulas.

“There’s two things you remember from traveling with Ross: you work hard, you are exhausted and sleep well, and you eat really good,” Hochstetler said.

Alumnus Charley Stephens graduated in 1999; he joined the choir during his freshman year and laughed at the memories he had from his time singing with his friends and former director.

“Harry was incredible,” Stephens said. “Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1 o’clock, we got to sit in front of him, hear his stories, and make beautiful music.”

Looking to the future, Neal hopes this event can continue each year, bringing more of the alumni choir members together to not only sing, but share the many memories they had while singing in the choir over the past several years.

“We are definitely going to do one,” Neal said. “I don’t know when, but it’s going to happen again because it has been such a positive experience.”

While it may be another year or so until the next choir reunion, Magoulas explained that he will always feel near to Berry and the people that make Berry what it is today.

“I left Berry geographically, but I will never leave it at heart,” Magoulas said.

4 thoughts on “Berry Singers perform 60th anniversary concert

  1. What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join our Berry hearts and create beautiful music together! Enjoyed every minute; it went by so fast, too! Thanks to all!

  2. Wonderful chance for all of us to BE BERRY again!! Berry is in our hearts every day of our lives. Thank you Dr. Neal for bringing us all together. As an aside, Ross Magoulas founded the Berry Singers in 1955 not 1965 and stayed at Berry until 1982. .

  3. Wonderful experience coming together from all our generations at Berry. We also had one of the first Berry Singers in our reunion chorus.
    Thank you Dr. Paul Neal for bringing this monumental event together. We all know that Berry is in our lives every single day. As an aside and correction, Ross Magoulas was the founder of the Berry Singers in 1958 and taught voice and chorus from 1955-1982, 27 years. We must do this again. BE BERRY!!!

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