Shocked expressions, smiles, a few tears and looks of disbelief were on the faces of Missouri State University Chorale members Friday. The university held an event at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts to make a "special announcement."
The choir filed onto risers, as the event began, to sing for those in attendance. As they performed Shenandoah under the direction of Cameron LaBarr, MSU director of musical studies, they, and few in the crowd, knew the surprise concerned them.
The featured speaker was U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, who's the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Inauguration . He gave a brief history of presidential inaugurations in the U.S., including the fact that the inauguration was moved to the west side of the Capitol Building in 1981 to accommodate large crowds that wanted to witness the event. And he talked about how more than a million people were there in person for the inauguration of President Barack Obama while many millions more watched on television.
But then he dropped the bombshell for choir members: he was there to invite the University Chorale to be the principal musical group for the next presidential inauguration.
After seeing their reaction, Blunt said, "I was told the Chorale would not know. Now I know they did not know." He said he looked forward to people all over the U.S. and around the world seeing the Missouri State University choir perform. According to Blunt, the choir will perform a couple of pieces the morning of the inauguration.
Missouri State President Clif Smart promised Blunt "they would not disappoint...they are truly one of the great collegiate American choirs."
Choir member Aurielle Macchi from St. Charles, said it was a complete surprise and she was amazed LaBarr was able to keep the secret from them for so long, "but it's an absolute honor." While the thought of performing for around 40 million people is "a little terrifying," she said it's also "very exciting."