2013-04-11 / Church News

Mary Lou Eisenhower Inspires Singers

By Mariann Martin
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Mary Lou Eisenhower directs the sopranos and altos of the Mercersburg Area Community Chorus in rehearsal on March 19 for Mozart’s Requiem. John Angle accompanies in the background at the James Buchanan Middle School. 
Photo by Mariann Martin Mary Lou Eisenhower directs the sopranos and altos of the Mercersburg Area Community Chorus in rehearsal on March 19 for Mozart’s Requiem. John Angle accompanies in the background at the James Buchanan Middle School. Photo by Mariann Martin THE MERCERSBURG JOURNAL

Musical powerhouse Mary Lou Eisenhower inspires professional and amateur singers alike each week in her role as the rehearsal director for the sopranos and altos of the Mercersburg Area Community Chorus. MACC director Richard Rotz calls her “the heart of the chorus.”

Eisenhower was soprano soloist in the first years of MACC concerts and has remained influential in the group since then as a singer, director and teacher. Her role in the chorus, according to Rotz, is in “helping us learn the music, giving us good advice about vowel sounds and pronunciation, and the musicality as well.”

While Rotz rehearses with the men of the chorus for the first half of the two-hour practice each Tuesday evening, Eisenhower coaches the women. She mixes reassurance and education in her directing and expects effort and quality singing from her singers. To conquer the nuances of the challenging classical music the chorus performs, Eisenhower often begins her instructions with something like, “Now, girls, I know I’m being picky, but ... .”

Chorus members donĂ­t fault her for being a stern taskmaster. “I appreciate Mary Lou’s energy and patience and dedication,” said high school student and alto chorus member Katrina Kniss.

“I appreciate her attention to not just the notes, but the feeling behind and the emotions in the music,” said soprano Sally Herritt.

“She’s gorgeous inside and out, and that’s all there is to it,” said chorus member Jayne Metcalfe about Eisenhower. “She’s indispensable. I don’t know how she does it at her age of ‘ahem’ 39, but she keeps going and going and going.”

Eisenhower acknowledged that MACC is an important part of her life. “It has given me the opportunity to pursue making good music with members of the area, and is a great joy. I am deeply grateful to Richard Rotz and MACC for the chance to develop the pleasure of learning great music.” She has also directed church choirs most of her life.

The Mercersburg Area Community Chorus and Orchestra will be performing Mozart’s Requiem and other anthems on Saturday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 14, 2013, at 3 p.m. at the Mercersburg Academy Chapel. Admission is free, and a freewill offering will be taken.

The Mercersburg Area Community Chorus is in its 37th season. “This is such a gift to the area. To be able to come into that beautiful chapel and hear quality music. It’s a gift to the singers, to the audience, to everyone who participates,” said Eisenhower.

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