Agora Chorale takes listeners ‘From Despair to Hope’

The Agora Chorale sings “Ain’t Judgin’ No Man” at their concert “From Despair to Hope” on April 27 (photos by Jerry Meade).

With live performances being rare in the last year, recent in-person performances can be much more impactful.

The MCCC Agora Chorale hosted “From Despair to Hope” on April 27 in the Lay-Z-Boy Center’s Meyer Theater.

This was their first concert in over a year due to COVID.

Catherine Brodie, the Chorale’s conductor, said she came up with the title because of the world situation with adversity and the pandemic.

“This just seemed appropriate and meaningful for our only concert this year,” Brodie said.

The 12 songs of the concert, like “Smile” by Charlie Chaplain and “The Prayer” by David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager, followed this theme.

“One of my goals for the students is to relate the art of music to society,” Brodie said.

Pianist Doug Stewart accompanies the Chorale in “Down to the River to Pray.”

Many aspects of this concert were different than previous Agora Chorale performances.

Due to the pandemic, the number of members in the group was cut from around 45 to 12. Four of the members were returning students, with all being on scholarship except one member who took the course for credit.

“Although working with such a small group was different, it was really quite gratifying,” Brodie said.

Special masks were warn by the singers during the performance.

“They are singers masks, and offer not only better protection, but better sound quality as well,” Brodie said.


The concert was longer than past Chorale performances because of the amount of songs the group had been practicing since their last performance.

Evan Marshall sings a solo in “Crown Him Lord of All.”

Brodie said they began practicing songs  “You Raise Me up “ and” Emerald Stream” in August over Zoom.

“Because I could not actually hear the students, I had no idea how they would sound once we got together,” Brodie said.

It wasn’t until the start of the Winter Semester that they were able to meet in person for practices.

Maribeth Mohn, violinist for the Agora Chorale, said it was nice to be back and performing.

“I really like making music with friends,” Mohn said.

MCCC student and Agora Chorale member, Alissa Bentley, said her favorite song to perform was “Al Shlosha D’varim,” a song based on the Jewish maxim that tells of the world being centered on truth, justice and peace.

“It was very meaningful for all of us to be able to perform in person once again. We hope we inspired those in attendance even though we only opened the house up to parents , friends and former Chorale members,” Brodie said.

Brodie said she hopes that the Agora Chorale will go back to normal procedure next fall.