The Albany Chorale
Organized choral music in Albany, Georgia began in 1929 with the Albany Choral Club. The first concert was a joint venture between the club in Albany and members of the Music Department at Andrew College in Cuthbert. Nearly 2000 music lovers heard the first concert of the Albany Choral Club. The club hoped to organize other clubs in surrounding towns with the idea of joining forces for a spring festival. The clubs would work on the same program and would set aside several days each spring for a festival to be held in Albany.
The Depression brought an end to the Festival, and there was a long silence for choral music in Albany. In 1946 a Men’s Chorus was organized, and in 1952 a Women’s Chorus was organized. The two groups joined in 1961 to form the first Albany Community Chorus.
Shortly after the opening of the Albany Junior College (now a Division of Albany State University) in 1966, an invitation was issued to all area church choirs to come together for a presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” to be performed in December, 1966. Chorus members asked Larry Dorminey (AJC Faculty) to be their director. The chorus has remained in continuous existence since then. In its early years, the chorus was a group of singers from the community directed by volunteers, singing music familiar to its audience. In 1991, the chorus voted to change its name to the Albany Chorale, and with that name change came a more mature outlook on the cultural needs of the community.
Since 1991, the Chorale has established a uniform performance attire, hired a permanent artistic director, gained non-profit status, and appointed a community-based advisory council.
In 1994, the Chorale made a singing tour of Eastern Europe. Back home, in Southwest Georgia, the Chorale has sung in Baconton, Cuthbert, Colquitt, Dawson, Donalsonville, Leesburg, and Parrott as well as many venues in Albany.
Board of Directors
Penny Sanders, President
Dee Barronton, Past President
Paula Carter, President-Elect
Laura Penrod, Treasurer
Amanda Latona, Secretary
Travis Kern is the husband of Robin Kern and the father of two sons, Kellen and Aidan Kern. Travis has been a choral director for 28 years. He has been fortunate enough to have taught at all levels from K-12 and beyond to include community choirs over the course of those 28 years.
Currently, Travis is the Director of Choral Activities for Colquitt County High School, where he directs 5 choirs. Those 5 choirs include the nationally award winning A Cappella choir. Recently the A Cappella choir toured Italy and performed in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican as well as performances in the Cathedral of St. Francis in Assisi as well as Il Duomo at St. Marco’s Square in Venice. Over the last 20 years, the A Cappella choir has been invited to perform at the Notre Dame Cathedral, The Washington National Cathedral, Carnegie Hall and the famous Kawai ‘ ahao church in Honolulu.
Travis is also an accomplished musical theater director and has directed more than 30 musical to include such titles as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, and most recently, Disney’s Tarzan. An accomplished Actor as well, Travis has performed such roles as Adam from Seven Brides, Henry Jekyll from Jekyll and Hyde, Danny from Grease and Daddy Warbucks from Annie, to name a few.
Meri Beth Hillard
Meri Beth was born in Spokane, Washington, and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She began her piano studies at an early age and studied music at both The University of New Mexico and Calvin College. Currently, she is active as a teacher, performer, and church musician.
As music/youth assistant at First United Methodist Church in Albany, she directs the youth choirs, plays for the sanctuary choir, and assists in the worship services. She accompanies music majors as well as the college choir at Darton State College. Meri Beth also has a studio of private piano students. She has accompanied The Albany Chorale for the past eleven years.
Meri Beth lives in Albany with her husband Claire Fox Hillard, they have three children: Jessica (and husband, Tim Morris), Kelsey (and husband, Blake Davis) and C.J. (and wife, Ann Marie); and two granddaughters, Sadie and Sally Beth Morris, and a grandson.