This Friday night, McMinn County High School will host an All City and County Choral Festival featuring singers from Athens City Middle School, McMinn County and McMinn Central high schools, and college students from Tennessee Wesleyan University.

The event is modeled after All-East Chorus, the district competition for choir students, but will also include a fundraising chili dinner to help fund choral programs in these local public schools.

The holiday themed concert will feature an individual performance by the Tennessee Wesleyan chorus and a collaborative show featuring all of the choruses.

Sarah Dalbey, the choral director at McMinn County High School, explained how the new event came about.

“I originally taught in Virginia and we used to do All-County shows there and everyone loved it,” said Dalbey, adding that the goal is to “bring more awareness to the choral programs and fine arts programs in the city and county.”

Dalbey spoke with Joshua Bragg, the performing arts teacher at ACMS, and Tristen Rowland, choral director at Central High School, whom she noted were both aboard.

“We talked about it and thought it would be a great idea to come together and to celebrate the holidays,” said Dalbey. “We want to include all of the community where the choral arts are concerned.”

Like Dalbey, Rowland and Bragg echoed the need for arts programs to be united.

“I’m really excited. I always think in systems like McMinn County with various schools that our arts programs need to be united,” said Rowland. “Unity within fine arts programs is something the community needs. This is a great step in helping that occur and I am excited to see what grows from it.”

The event, Bragg said, shows “unity in our county within the two school systems in the area, that we can work together and plan together doing things that are best for our kids.”

According to Bragg, the All City and County Choral Festival also offers a special opportunity for his middle school students.

“It is important because my eighth graders get to potentially meet their high school teachers and sing with more mature singers. They can have a little more experience going into high school,” he explained. “They can say they have sung harder material than we sing. It’s a good challenge for the eighth graders.”

Another unique aspect of the holiday concert is that Dr. Marius Bahnean, choral director for Tennessee Wesleyan, will be the clinician for all the students as they rehearse all day prior to the show.

“I wanted students to have a clinician other than that of their day to day basis,” said Dalbey. “His choral will be performing and then all will join together. We wanted to give Tennessee Wesleyan the opportunity to perform on their own because we want to celebrate what they’re doing as well.”

Along with featuring local talent, the festival is a fundraiser for all of the choral programs, as well as upcoming musical productions.

Individual concert tickets are $2 and a $5 ticket includes access to the concert as well as a chili dinner prior to the show.

Tickets for the All City and County Choral Festival may be purchased from choral students or at the door. Patrons wishing to benefit a specific school should announce this when purchasing tickets.

The All City and County Choral Festival will be performed in the auditorium of McMinn County High School on Friday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. The “Fundraising Chili Supper” will be held in the cafeteria from 5 to 7 p.m.

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