The Covington-Conyers Choral Guild has touted itself as the east metro’s best-kept secret since 1984. Nearly devastated by a two-year pause during COVID-19, the internationally performing choral group now works to rebuild itself to its pre-pandemic status.
by Kari Apted
Roger Waters found himself commemorating the anniversary of the end of World War II in a unique way in May 2011: standing on the shore of the American cemetery in Normandy, France, singing by invitation with a large group of talented friends from the Covington and Conyers area.
Though the Covington-Conyers Choral Guild has a local name, it has performed across the United States and Europe. When asked to recall his favorite performance memory, Waters, the group’s musical director and conductor, has a difficult time naming just one beyond Normandy.
“April 18, 2004 [at] a concert on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and a September 1999 concert at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center,” he said, before mentioning the group’s international concert tours in England and Italy. “The CCCG has, with acclaim, represented Covington and Conyers on the national and international stage.”
The CCCG had humble beginnings. The guild started when a group of singers from several Covington churches came together in 1982 to perform the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah. The concert was a rousing success, and the group began to grow. With the addition of a small orchestra and local soloists from Newton and Rockdale counties, the community chorus’ original steering committee developed into a board of directors. It soon became incorporated by the State of Georgia and gained 501(3)(c) status from the IRS as a non-profit organization. In addition to singing in cathedrals in Italy and Barcelona, Spain, the guild has performed throughout the eastern United States, from Savannah and Nashville, Tennessee, to Charleston, South Carolina, and Biloxi, Mississippi. For several years, the CCCG provided the musical component of candlelight Christmas gatherings at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
“The CCCG has, with acclaim, represented Covington and Conyers on the national and international stage.’”Roger Waters
Waters has an extensive background in music, with a master’s degree from Georgia State University. His musical experience includes work with university choirs and glee clubs, but his current focus remains on making the CCCG the best it can be. The Covington-Conyers Choral Guild desires to encourage a love for the arts by exposing audiences of all ages to a variety of music, from classical to pop. Although Waters believes the ability to sing well can be a gift, he also sees it as a skill that must be developed through proper training.
“In a choral setting, singers have to be trained,” Waters said. “Singers in the CCCG receive weekly training in the production of artistic choral sound.”
Singers practice for over two hours each week during the fall and spring seasons. Guild membership is open to singers who are high school age and older in all four voice parts: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. There is not an audition requirement, but members pay a fee to join. In addition to practicing and performing, guild members may go on retreats. Many simply enjoy the mental health benefits they receive from their musical pursuits.
“Singing is definitely therapeutic,” Waters said. “The art of music is used extensively in medical and mental/psychological therapy. It allows the singer and the listener to focus on an artistic activity that brings entertainment and satisfaction—therapy—from a performer to a listening audience.”
On behalf of the CCCG board, Waters encourages the community to help its choral performance organization rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic by purchasing tickets to Covington-Conyers Choral Guild shows.
“We lost two entire seasons of performances and almost had to fold due to the lack of income from ticket sales,” Waters said. “However, due to the tenacity of our board of directors and Chairman Steve Traylor, we have worked our way back to almost where we were in the winter of 2020. The CCCG is for sure Covington’s and Conyers’ unintentional best-kept secret. We hope for increased attendance at our concerts that provide quality choral performances, nationally and internationally.”
Supporting the guild through ticket sales also helps the group give back to the community. Each year, the CCCG offers two scholarships to Rockdale and Newton graduates pursuing careers in music.
The CCCG Music Scholarship awards $1,000 to a graduating senior seeking a degree in voice-related music. The recipient is chosen based on academic and artistic achievement, financial need, teacher recommendations and a live audition. Meanwhile, the CCCG Joni B. Jones Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 to a senior pursuing a degree in music education. It has the same requirements as the music scholarship, but applicants must submit an essay instead of performing a live audition.
Those interested in supporting the Covington-Conyers Choral Guild can visit choralguild.org.