Jones College’s JC Voices perform spring concert in Laurel celebrating Beethoven’s birthday

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s JC Voices will present their annual spring concert, A Silence Haunts Me, on March 31, at First-Trinity Presbyterian Church in Laurel. The public is invited to the free, 7 p.m. concert which will commemorate the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth.

“Beethoven was not best known for his vocal or choral works; nonetheless, this year’s concert will feature a variety of vocal selections by, or about Beethoven.  The audience will hear some familiar tunes, as well as some lesser-known gems such as three of the 25 Irish Songs (WoO 152), for solo, duet, and piano trio.  It is always exciting to find repertoire that is not often performed, but by a very well-known composer and although most people think they know the works of Beethoven, they most likely do not know the folksongs,” said JC Voices Director, Dr. Susan A. Smith.

Interestingly, Beethoven composed more folksong settings than he did any other genre, completing 179 folk arrangements from 1809 to 1820, added Smith.  Jones College students performing the Folksongs include Erin Biglane of Ellisville, Laurel residents, Alyssa Garick and Hayden Dillistone, Janna Swanner of Taylorsville and Bonner Welch of Moselle.

In addition to honoring Beethoven’s genius through his own music, the concert will also feature works by J. S. Bach, György Orbán, Stephen Paulus, Kim André Arnesen and others, as the singers explore the power of the human spirit through silence, loss, forgiveness, and hope.  The pinnacle of the concert will feature the passionate and dramatic work by Jake Runestad, A Silence Haunts Me, which is a complex and intense choral work describing Beethoven’s famous text, The Heiligenstadt Testament.

“This famous letter, addressed to his brothers, detailed the suffering and despair felt by Beethoven as his impending deafness became increasingly more profound.  Jake Runestad and poet Todd Boss recreated, through music, the famous text outlining Beethoven’s loss of hearing and the emotions that accompanied that loss—despair, hopelessness, retribution, devastation, frustration, and finally, acceptance,” said Smith.

The Chamber Singers are conducted by Dr. Susan A. Smith and accompanied and assisted by collaborative pianist, Dr. Theresa Sanchez.  This year’s program will also feature guest string players and clarinetists Michelle Graham, Jones College Clarinet Instructor and the Northeast Jones High School assistant band director, Lindsey Langley. Reagan Dukes of Laurel and Lydia Dees of Ellisville will perform as soprano soloists and singers from the select vocal group, The Bridge, will join JC Voices as they present choral gems and new works from the Baroque period to the Twenty-First Century.  Composer Joseph Martin’s piece, The Awakening, concludes the concert with reflections of sadness, hope, celebration and remembrance.

Martin tragically lost his middle school choral teacher and his musical inspiration to a very violent death after a choral concert.  This piece is written in honor of her and is composed in three sections, as described by Martin—the first a dream, or rather nightmare, where there is silence and despair, the second, a new day of hope and the end of silence, and the finale, a hymn of praise to the “Giver of Song.”  Beethoven found the strength to live and compose, even after his almost complete deafness.  He composed the Missa Solemnis, the Ninth Symphony, the last five string quartets, and the last five piano sonatas during this time. His legacy is profound and the final sentiment of The Awakening, Let Music Live, embodies no more exceptional genius than Ludwig van Beethoven.  Happy Birthday Beethoven (1770-1827)!

For more information about how to support JC Voices or to be notified of our upcoming concerts and events, contact Dr. Susan A. Smith at or contact the Fine Arts Division at 601-477-4203.

JC Voices & *The Bridge

Keara Altman, Quitman

Kalyn Bales, Stringer

Erin Biglane, Ellisville

*Ka’Lisha Carter, Waynesboro

Chicago Collins, Brookhaven

Brittney Darbonne, Laurel

Faith DeCastro, Guam

*Lydia Dees, Ellisville

*Hayden Dillistone, Laurel

*Reagan Dukes, Laurel

*Ty Evans, Laurel

Alyssa Garick, Laurel

Kade Lee, Stringer

*Stuyuncey Nobels, Laurel

Zyion Pittman, Soso

Tellas Smith, Laurel

Janna Swanner, Taylorsville

*Michael Thompson, Laurel

*Bonner Welch, Moselle

 Photos by Jeannie Meyer Photography