For 31 years, Dr. Andre Thomas has been the leading light of the Tallahassee Community Chorus. He’ll be leading the group for one last time later this month. And he’ll be going out in style.
For his final podium performance with the Tallahassee Community Chorus, Dr. Andre Thomas will be conducting his own composition.
“I wrote a mass," he exclaimed. "And I wrote a mass that I said needs to reflect who I am and also dedicated to the choir I love the most.”
Certainly several members of that choir – the Tallahassee Community Chorus – formed the core of the ensemble that was assembled for the world premiere of Thomas’s “Mass-A Celebration of Love and Joy” that debuted in Kansas City this past February. Thomas revealed those folks had a surprise for their maestro during that performance’s final rehearsal.
“And I go like this to raise them up and they all turn and face the back wall," he grinned. "And I kept wondering, ‘Why are they all in the same t-shirt?’ And then they turn around and it said, ‘We Mastered the Maestro’s Mass,’ and I knew I was in for it from that moment on.”
Even though Thomas required the singers to operate from memory without printed music, he insisted the Chorus members exceeded all expectations.
“They rose to the occasion as they always do. When I stand in front of them, even when I’m yelling about this, that and the other, I know when it’s time, they’re going to give me all they can possibly give me.”
Tallahassee Community Chorus President Jan Smith admitted the Kansas City debut of “Mass” was beyond magical.
“There was a lot of electricity and love in that hall. It was fantastic and for the chorus, the energy that typically goes back and forth between Dr. Thomas and the Chorus has always been wonderful for us. I know it wears him out. But it was magnified,” she said.
Further energizing the Kansas City performances was the fact that so many of Thomas’s peers, hyper-critical choral directors from all over the world, were in the audience and gave him and the Chorus a standing ovation at the show's conclusion. And now Dr. Andre Thomas’s masterwork, featuring the entire Tallahassee Community Chorus, including multiple alumni singers, will be bringing it all home to Florida State University’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. That concert happens Saturday, April 13th starting at 7:30 p.m. Chorus Executive Director Randall Webster predicted a rapid sellout.
“People need to go online immediately to buy their tickets at: www.tcchorus.org or they can call the concert line at: 850-597-0603. But get your tickets now, because they’re going to be hard to find real soon,” he urged.
And for Dr. Andre Thomas, the force that has guided the Tallahassee Community Chorus for just over three decades, it will be a triumphant farewell.
“To go out with the people who love me and to go out and see all the students over 35 years, I couldn’t ask for it to be any better! I really couldn’t. So if I feel this good leaving, my goal was, the way I felt when I came needs to be the same way I feel when I go out.”