As The Aiken Choral Society celebrates their 50th year anniversary, we wanted to go back in time and shine a light on how far they have come. Maureen Simpson serves as the creative musical director. Simpson has been a part of the society for 15 years but has always known about it. She is an Aiken local. She has been a performer for most of her life, so there is a sense of safety and understanding that she brings to her singers.
Simpson lived in Wisconsin for some time until the music director of her church retired and was in need of someone to come in and fill the space. It turned out to be a pretty steady gig. She eventually took a hiatus to work on her doctorate and take care of her mother. Then her teaching at Georgia Southern began where she taught voice and opera. Then a job opened up at St. Mary’s and finally the Aiken Choral Society director retired and she took it with fervor.
Simpson believes that music is music and a gift is a gift, it is meant to be given away. She often asks the question, “How can we make music become a conduit into other cultures and other experiences and other lives?” Her goal is this, to then in turn educate people without forcing it upon them, but by the renewing that happens through experiencing one’s hardship and joy through song and emotion.
This concert is titled, “Sing Out America.” It begins with what we knew as the first national anthem, the vice president’s walk-out song. Then introduces a song about the civil war on through the major movements and moments of America – suffragette songs, 1960’s protest songs, war songs, etc. All of these songs are a part of American history, a part of what makes America, America. This concert serves as a representation of every part of the American experience. Simpson believes this is how we are connected, through our music.
Her purpose for the Aiken Choral Society music selection is to get people to relate, but also to expose people the music they otherwise would not have been exposed to or even to write off. She aims to expose those who attend to as many cultures and utter diversity as possible. In this, she is very much about stretching people’s ideas to look outside their “norm” to be able to appreciate music they have never heard, while also finding music that is not quite so delineated.
Thus so, the Aiken Choral Society would love to invite you to their spring concert, “Sing Out America” on May 15th at 4pm, at Aiken’s First Baptist Church, 120 Chesterfield St. N. Celebrating their 50th year, the Aiken Choral Society will walk through the history of America, through her songs, accompanied by David Brown and directed by Dr. Maureen Simpson. The concert is free to the public, but donations are welcomed.