By Janet Bresenham
The rousing sounds of patriotism echoed throughout Town Hall at Clovis Community College Sunday afternoon, as the men and women of the High Plains Chorale presented their spring concert.
Both the audience and the 37-member singing group were a sea of red, white and blue, with many people still dressed in their Sunday best for the hour-long performance.
As four members of the Air Force Junior ROTC Clovis High School color guard posted the American flag, everyone rose to their feet, hands over their hearts, to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” together.
Then, instead of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the High Plains Chorale sang a musical version to launch into the patriotic concert.
The famous lines from Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus,” which are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, came to life in a reading by Janelle Zamie and then through the chorale’s voices raised in harmony on “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor.”
Wayne Anderson, who directs the High Plains Chorale, took time during the concert to honor audience members who have served or are serving in every branch of the U.S. military.
While the singers performed a medley of theme songs from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Air Force, Anderson asked people to stand if they had served in one of those branches of service, while the audience applauded enthusiastically.
Halfway through the program, Anderson, who also sings as a tenor, delivered a powerful solo of “The Red, White and Blue.”
His wife, Becky Anderson, an alto with the High Plains Chorale, then sang solo on “God Bless America.”
Rounding off the trio of soloists, Mike Hailey, who sings tenor with the High Plains Chorale, offered his version of the now-familiar “God Bless the U.S.A.”
The afternoon concert concluded with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and a Walt Whitman poem set to music called “Song of Democracy,” a lengthy, challenging piece which Anderson said used to be popular and “needs to be revived.”
Anderson thanked the audience for supporting the High Plains Chorale, a group that was formed about five years ago through Clovis Community College and is offered for credit or audit as a community service.
“They’re just a pleasure to work with — and what a heart, a heart for music,” said Anderson, who worked at Clovis High School for 23 years and has worked the past six years as music coordinator for the Clovis Municipal School District.
Ferrell Roberts, who accompanies the chorale on piano and worked for 14 years with Anderson at the high school, said he was excited for the opportunity to work with him again.
For CCC instructor David Caffey, singing bass in the High Plains Chorale offers a chance to be involved with more people in the area.
“It’s something I’ve done off and on in four different communities I’ve lived in,” Caffey said. “This has been a good organization.”
Some families in the audience were celebrating Mother’s Day by attending the concert, including three generations of one family.
Seven-month-old Alyssa Bagwell basked in the affection of her grandmother, Anne Lassiter, and her great-grandmother, Shirley Lassiter, who were watching her while her mother, Hillary Bagwell, worked at a local restaurant.
“My brother, Lonzo Lassiter, is a student at Clovis Community College and works in the sound booth, so he invited his mother out to this concert for Mother’s Day,” Anne Lassiter said.