A Cappella Singers at Lipscomb University harmonize with tradition

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Gary Wilson

As a Church of Christ institution in Nashville, the musical ensemble A Cappella Singers are a perfect fit for Lipscomb University’s musical offerings.

“It’s important because a cappella is part of our heritage,” said Gary P. Wilson, chair of the Classical Music Program and professor at Lipscomb.

Wilson conducts the choir comprised of about 35 undergraduate students, freshmen through senior, about half of them music majors. The diversity of the students adds a uniqueness to the ensemble, a dynamic that Wilson swears evolves each year.

“Individual people bring their own voices into it and it makes a difference in how it sounds,” said Wilson. “Every group sounds different to me.”

Each year the ensemble spends the fall semester working on sacred a cappella literature, both sacred and secular, with text that Wilson believes can impact the lives of his students.

“I value that because it gives me the opportunity to talk about some important life issues,” said Wilson. “Those kind of things are very important to me working with this kind of choir.”

The group had its first performance on Oct. 6, an annual concert during Family Weekend. Wilson said the atmosphere is always informal and relaxed, but remains one of his favorite concerts of the year.

“It’s one of the only times each year that I get to see the parents of my students, I value that,” said Wilson who cherishes the close relationships he has within the choir.

“These students bless my life and the life of my family in countless ways,” said Wilson.

Recently Wilson had a family emergency that caused him to miss rehearsal, something he rarely does. Despite his absence, he felt connected to his students in the way they reached out to him.

“I can’t tell you how many texts and emails my wife and I got… and not just from them, but from their families as well,” said Wilson. “That doesn’t happen everywhere, that’s a tremendous blessing.”

Not only that, but Wilson was able to miss class without stress because he trusted the leaders of the ensemble to make good use of class time.

“It’s nice to see the training that I’ve invested in these students pay off because a lot of them are going to go off and have their own choral programs one of these days and they’re going to be fine, they’re going to be ready,” said Wilson.

Wilson said there are many performance opportunities in the works for the choir including traditions the ensemble always participates in. One such performance is with Amy Grant at “Lighting of the Green,” an annual holiday concert hosted by Lipscomb University, this year on Nov. 27. The group also travels each year on a recruiting tour in January where they perform at churches and schools in surrounding states.

For Wilson, the performances are always fun but it’s rehearsal with the students where the magic really happens.

“I love being with them and working on something that’s challenging and we just can’t get it and it finally comes together, said Wilson. “That’s an exciting moment, when we all realize that it was really good.”