By Joel Hall
During a more than 20-year tenure as the chorus teacher at Forest Park High School, Marion Williams said he shared his love of music with many students. On Friday, 74 of those students, alumni of the Forest Park High School Concert Choir, will join together for a reunion concert at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church.
The Forest Park High School Reunion Concert Choir will perform at 7:30 p.m., at the church, located at 5320 Phillips Drive in Lake City.
Williams, 65, who retired in 1999 and contacted his former students to bring the concert together, said he believes the event is a unique opportunity to reconnect through the love of song.
"This is the first time we have done this," said Williams, who has served as the minister of music at Jones Memorial for the past 12 years. "In any kind of arts endeavor in the schools, there is an unusual bond that develops between people. I just felt the need to be with them again.
"Most of them haven't seen each other since graduation," he added. "One of the reasons I got this group together was to remind them that singing is fun to do."
Williams said the group, composed of Forest Park alumni living all over the state, have gathered at Jones Memorial every Monday since the middle of March to rehearse for the concert. The program will include a variety Broadway tunes, sacred music, and secular pieces. The group plans to perform "River in Judea," "There Is a Balm in Gilead," "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and "Vive L'Amour," a traditional, French folk song. The group also plans to sing "Memory" from the musical "Cats," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Hey, Look Me Over," "Bring Him Home," "My Wish for You," and "The Rhythm of Life."
The concert will end in the same way all of Williams' concerts ended from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, with a singing of "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." Audience members and Forest Park High School alumni in attendance will be asked to participate.
Mona Brewer, of the class of 1978, a professional gospel singer and a Marietta resident, will be performing one of several solos. She said the group of singers includes construction company owners, Web designers, registered nurses, professional caterers, photographers, and people in a number of other occupations.
"I was surprised to learn that many of them stayed with music in some way ... many of us took different paths because we have different talents," Brewer said. "It just blows my mind how good it sounds after all these years. Everybody did their part to make this happen."
Brewer said the concert will be particularly meaningful to anyone who graduated from Forest Park High School during Williams' tenure.
"A lot of the numbers we are doing are ones that we did in high school," Brewer said. "Every concert, every year, every single time, we did 'The Lord Bless You and Keep You' and of course, we are going to do that again. It's going to be a very nostalgic concert."
The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Marion Williams at (678) 432-5778.