Marion Smith, Ph.D., approaches this year’s annual Spring Concert of the Eckerd College Concert Choir with decidedly mixed emotions.
The Mother’s Day event always draws a crowd to Wireman Chapel, with lots of mothers and their children in attendance. This year’s program is titled “Come Let’s Be Merry,’’ reflecting the celebratory nature of the music.
But this will be the last choral concert under Smith’s direction. He is retiring after 27 years as Director of Choral Music at Eckerd College.
“There are a lot of mixed emotions,” he says. “It will be an emotional time for me.”
Yet he also is looking forward to the freedom that retirement brings, even if he’s not exactly sure what he will do. “I’m ready,” he says, “for a new adventure.’’
Smith was born in Mobile, Ala.. He received his bachelor of music from Xavier University of Louisiana, his master of arts degree from Washington State University and his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. He joined Eckerd in 1987 from Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.
Besides directing the chorus, Smith also teaches music history, music theory and general education courses through The Human Experience, the academic cornerstone for every Eckerd freshman.
Among his most cherished memories are the many trips abroad he made with students, Smith said, particularly a concert on the Great Wall of China and another at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. “It’s been a wonderful experience,’’ he says of his time at Eckerd.
This year’s spring concert will feature the 34-member chorus, which includes nine community members, and an 18-piece chamber orchestra, many of whose members play in the Florida Orchestra.
The Spring Concert will be May 11 at 3 p.m. at the Wireman Chapel, Forrer Sheen Drive. The program will feature Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C, which the choir recently performed at Carnegie Hall with other groups from across the country.
The Mozart piece and several other works will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra, many of whose members are in the Florida Orchestra. Spirituals, secular songs and a medley from Ragtime round out the program.