The Lebanon Valley College Concert Choir's spring concert tour will visit several places in Pennsylvania - and on Thursday, in Huntersville.
The 84-member choir has a local connection in Roy Melton, who attends Davidson United Methodist Church. His brother once sang in the LVC choir, and he has worked with the choir before.
"I think this is going to be really special," Melton said. "The kids are so excited and looking forward to the trip."
As longtime choir director Mark Mecham was planning the choir's 75th anniversary tour, he emailed Melton about the possibility of coming to North Carolina.
Melton worked with Sandy Rogers, minister of music at Huntersville United Methodist, to host the choir at her church. Many churches, Melton said, don't have enough room at the front of the sanctuary to accommodate such a large group.
Most students will stay with families in the area for the night they are in Huntersville, Melton said.
Lebanon Valley College, a liberal arts school, is in Annville, Penn. The choir began touring annually in 1936, taking its first extended tour to Washington, D.C., and Maryland in 1938.
Mecham said the group has traveled in the South before, but it has never been to the Charlotte area. The choir will drive back to Pennsylvania - almost 500 miles - the morning after their concert because they have another performance that night.
"I wish we had more time on the ground," Mecham said. "Lake Norman and that whole Charlotte area are just so beautiful and interesting."
The 2011 spring tour program, called "Shout for Joy!" features American hymns, Scandinavian music and contemporary choral works. About 50 choir members will embark on an international tour in May including a tour of Scandinavia.
Mecham said this tour's set list includes an eclectic variety of music, with everything from African-American spirituals to a mid-Renaissance Lutheran choral tune.
The variety of music and having to sing so many different styles has challenged the choir, whose members represent 18 different courses of study at LVC, Mecham said.
"I believe each of these things should have their own distinctive sound," Mecham said. The choir will sing more than half of the music from memory.
The choir will sing some familiar hymns, including "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." The program also includes the Revolutionary War-era arrangements of "Thomas-Town" and "Dedham," by William Billings. Other hymns the choir will sing are "The Lord Is My Shepherd" and "Let the Mountains Shout for Joy."
Two LVC sophomore organists will accompany the choir.
The Scandinavian set will include songs based on biblical texts and various calls to prayer. The concert will end with "Lord of All Being," a newly commissioned work based on an 1859 meditative text by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Music publisher Everett Reed, based in California, composed the piece.
Melton said the choir has "great quality." He recalls one instance when, after the group ate dinner at a host church, some of the students formed a little group and sang a thank-you song for the people who served the dinner.
"The kids are just fantastic," he said. "Anybody who comes to this will not be disappointed."