MC community ensembles on hiatus for fall 2020 semester

MC community ensembles on hiatus for fall 2020 semester

July 10, 2020

The Maryville College Division of Fine Arts has announced that four of its community ensembles – the Maryville College Community Chorus, the MC3 Band, the Orchestra at Maryville College, and the Scottie Singers – will be on hiatus for the fall 2020 semester, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Eric Simpson, conductor of the Orchestra and MC3 Band, and Alan Eleazer, conductor of the Community Chorus, addressed the difficult decision in an open letter to members of the ensembles.

“Our department is facing unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter states. “Since our spring semester ended, we have been consulting multiple expert resources about the capacity to offer community-based ensembles this fall. After extensive analysis and exploration of many different scenarios, we have concluded, reluctantly, that the safest route for all of our members and directors is to put our community ensembles on hiatus for the fall 2020 semester.”

The conductors added that they, along with the Division of Fine Arts, will continue to assess the situation and hope to resume community ensembles in spring 2021, if it is safe to do so. In the meantime, there are plans to hold virtual meet-up events for community ensemble members, which will provide opportunities to discuss future plans and “be a sounding board for each other during these challenging times.”

“Your contribution to cultural arts in our county and the community at large is so important to us, and we are grateful for your commitment and your time,” the conductors wrote.

Stacey Wilner, director of choral activities at Maryville College, also provided further explanation and encouragement in a letter to youth choirs.

“As musicians we seek answers that are not readily available in a situation that is constantly changing,” Wilner said. “Our knowledge and coping strategies will continue to evolve as more empirical research involving aerosols and fluid dynamics is conducted by researchers around the world. This world-wide pandemic that is impacting all of our lives in various ways, is having a profound effect on music lovers, professionals and amateurs of all ages and disciplines. With guidance from the college, local and CDC guidelines, and our respective professional associations, we will faithfully monitor and explore possibilities in hopeful anticipation that we may soon return to music making that inspires and nourishes our community. It is so very important to cheerfully support each other, musically as well as spiritually, during these trying times.”

The Highlander Chorale, a community ensemble for high school age students, will meet exclusively online, since it counts as fine arts credit for home-schooled high school students. Additionally, it is an approved ensemble for auditions for the East Tennessee Vocal Association’s annual All-East Chorus and All-State Chorus events.  

Maryville College recently announced that it will resume in-person classes and residential living in August, and planning is underway for student-only ensembles to be offered in a modified basis this fall semester.


Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”