Updated: 6/19/2014 11:35 AM CST BY TOM JOYNER FOUNDATION
June 19, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – “They feel regal,” said one of the members when trying on the new robes. “We are a 21st Century choir now.” Thanks to University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander, the Vesper Choir will be magnificently robed in splendid finery in the fall. They worked with limited numbers of robes and performed this past year with the ladies wearing different styles during performances while the men wore black suits.
The robe project was initiated by National Alumni Board member Mrs. Eunice Williamson and taken on as a project by the Class of 1965, however, the project could not be completed. In recognizing the importance of the Choir’s visual representation as ambassadors of the university, Chancellor Alexander desired that the appearance of the Vesper Choir match the excellence in singing the ensemble is noted for.
“I wanted them to look as good as they sound,” said Dr. Alexander.
Chancellor Alexander approved the new design and colors and funded the purchase of 85 new robes. Dr. Michael J. Bates, Vesper Choir director and interim chair of the Music Department, expressed his gratitude to Dr. Alexander for recognizing the importance of the Choir’s artistic, educational and cultural mission and its importance not only as ambassadors of the university, but as conveyors of the history and traditions of the University.
“The students are excited and are looking forward to the opportunity to perform in the new robes,” said Dr. Bates.
Manufactured by Murphy Robes, a committee of choir members led by President Steven Howard, Vice-president Jadette Reed and advisor Ms. Joyce Bracy Vaughan selected the robe style, design and colors upon Dr. Bates’ approval. After the Chancellor’s enthusiastic endorsement, the Vesper Choir is now in possession of beautiful new robes.
Organized in 1945 by Ariel M. Lovelace, the Vesper Choir is a service organization that has performed for significant campus and community events, schools, churches, and community organizations around the state of Arkansas and internationally. With a mission that is cultural, artistic and educational, the group has produced a long line of distinguished singers, performers and professionals in other work fields and academics including Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, prominent theologian, pastor and author; Smokie Norful, Grammy award-winning contemporary gospel artist and pastor; and the late James McKissic, internationally renowned concert pianist.
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