News

Former Male Chorus Members Will Raise a Joyful Noise at Homecoming

by Morgan Orangi '13
Male Chorus
In the 1950s, many members of the Chorus were candidates for the ministry and the chorus helped prepare them musically.

In addition to the usual sporting events and academic short courses, this year's Homecoming Weekend activities will feature the joyful noise of men who sang in the Male Chorus from 1953 to 1981 under Director of Music Don Plott.

"Many of these men don't know each other, but they have a strong bond anyway because they share the chorus as a significant college experience," said Nmeli Nnoromele '11, alumni relations coordinator.

About 30 former members are expected to attend. On Friday afternoon, they will tour Sloan Music Building, conduct a rehearsal there, and attend a concert by the current Davidson College Chorale. On Saturday morning they will sing the Alma Mater at the Avant Garde luncheon, sing the National Anthem at the football game, and enjoy an evening reception and dinner.

"I hope to remind them what choral music meant to them, and emphasize that they built the foundation on which our current outstanding choral programs rest," said Chris Gilliam, director of choral activities. "The choral arts are blossoming at Davidson, and I feel that it's a result of the work of Don Plott, my predecessors and Davidson's strong choral history."

Male Chorus
Male Chorus tours included trips to exciting destinations such as this trip to Disney World in 1972.

Singing as a Common Passion

Class of 1977 singer Stephen Keener initiated the idea of a special choral reunion with the Alumni Relations Office, and has been organizing weekend activities. Keener joined the chorus his sophomore year after attending a concert and seeing the camaraderie between members. He said chorus became a creative and social outlet for him by bringing him together people who shared a common passion and commitment.

"I believe having a well-rounded liberal arts experience through both curricular and extracurricular activities is important," said Keener, a biology major whose parents were musicians.

One of Keener's fondest memories is the Male Chorus's annual spring break tour around the region. The chorus also presented many performances nearer to campus with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, at high schools, churches, music festivals, and on coast-to-coast radio broadcasts.

Rave Reviews

Don Plott
In addition to directing the Male Chorus at Davidson, Don Plott served as director of the Oratorio singers of Charlotte for 20 years.

They received rave reviews. A 1955 edition of the Charlotte Observer said, "A timbre and finesse that must be the envy of many larger colleges and universities. There is no better example of good quality in relation to small quantity. They win you by their serious approach to music and their musicianship."

Prior to Plott's appointment as choral director, the Male Chorus was directed by students themselves. Beginning in 1953, Plott directed the ensemble for almost 30 years, and Keener recalled him fondly. "There was laughter everywhere Plott went, and he had a one-liner ready for any situation," said Keener.

After Plott's death in 1981, the college preserved his legacy through the Donald Bryce Plott Scholarship Endowment, which continues to annually provide scholarships to two students who are interested in becoming professional musicians.

As the student demographic changed in the late 1970's with the admission of women, the Male Chorus gave way to the co-ed Concert Choir. The program currently consists of the Chorale, Collegium Musicum, Choral Arts Society, and Davidson Singers.

Gilliam hopes to some day revive the Male Chorus by dividing the Davidson Singers, a group of students within the Choral Arts Society, into male and female groups that can perform separately and collaboratively.

"Don Plott is a heritage that we're proud of. He was vital to building today's music program," said Gilliam.