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Former Tallahassee Community Chorus Member Returns as Music Director


The Tallahassee Community Chorus now faces a future without its legendary director, Dr. Andre Thomas, who retired earlier this year. But the group has now tapped a former member to take over the podium.

For Dr. Michael Hanawalt, this is a happy homecoming.

“I was a student here, then one of the assistants with the Chorus when I was getting my PhD with Dr. Thomas and it’s really a thrill to be back and knowing the great people of the Chorus, the comradery and spirit that’s been created there, it’s just a thrill to be back in that environment.”

Tallahassee Community Chorus President Jan Smith says the thrill is mutual.

“Those who were here when he was our assistant conductor and sang with us are really happy to see him coming back and we look forward to new adventures and new experiences with Dr. Hanawalt.”

Hanawalt would be the first to admit the shoes he’ll be filling in the wake of Dr. Thomas’s retirement are massive. But he hopes the ensemble will cut him some slack.

“I’m a little bit of a known quantity for them, so hopefully that lets them give me the benefit of the doubt for a little while.”

Hanawalt says he’s already consumed in planning for his first outing with the Chorus.

“We are going to do Mozart’s ‘Requem’ for our concert in November. This is a piece that I actually sang with the Chorus when I was a student here and it’s a wonderful work! A lot of emotions contained within the thing, it’s fiery, it’s sorrowful and passionate, all in a 50-minute segment. So I thought this was a perfect thing to do. For me to be able to revisit this as a conductor rather than a singer, was a really good introduction piece for us together with the Chorus.”

Now that there’s a new music director and conductor on board, Tallahassee Community Chorus President Jan Smith is also in the market for some new performers as well.

“We’d really like singers to sign up online at: and come and sing with us. We take all ages from middle school and up. Students, community members alike from all over the area, we welcome you to come and sing with us, or sit in and see what the first rehearsal is like and then sing with us if you like. Our first rehearsal is August 26.”

And if you’d like to attend the first concert welcoming Dr. Michael Hanawalt back to the Tallahassee Community Chorus, keep checking the web site as well. Smith says tickets will be available soon.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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