“Love Me Tender: A Tribute to Elvis” - The Echo News
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“Love Me Tender: A Tribute to Elvis”

Taylor Sounds, Chorale and the Jungle Cats host Valentine’s Day Dinner and Concert

Chorale members enjoy last year’s Oscar-themed Valentine’s dinner and performance. (Photograph provided by Jess Miller)

Chorale members enjoy last year’s Oscar-themed Valentine’s dinner and performance. (Photograph provided by Jess Miller)

By Grace Hooley | Echo

“The King” is back! The Taylor Sounds and Chorale, featuring The Jungle Cats jazz band, will bring Elvis’s music back to life again. On Saturday, they will perform a “Love Me Tender” tribute concert to Elvis during a catered Valentine’s dinner.

This concert will consist of rock-and-roll favorites from “The King.” The audience can choose to sit and listen or get up and dance while enjoying a lavish dinner buffet. All proceeds from this event will go toward the spring break Greece trip. Professor of Music and Director of Choral Ensembles JoAnn Rediger and Managing and Artistic Director of Theatre Tracy Manning will be taking 24 students from Chorale, Sounds and Playback to Greece to work with refugees through music.

“It’s really good to see that the music we do at Taylor will have more than just entertainment value but have a value that impacts the world and Christ’s kingdom,” junior Caleb Grubb, a member of the Jungle Cats, said.

The Taylor Sounds hosted their first Valentine’s Day dinner in 1996 to raise money for a trip to Israel. It has continued with a different theme every year. The last two years’ themes were the ’60s and Oscar winners. This year’s theme came from Rediger’s sister who attended the event last year. She mentioned it would be entertaining to do an Elvis theme, and Rediger ran with the idea.

The officers of chorale are seniors Meghan Gamble,Howard LeeandJeff Grogan. Gamble said she and the other officers meet with Rediger weekly to plan events and performances for Chorale and Sounds, including the upcoming dinner.

The Jungle Cats played during last year’s dinner, and they are continuing the tradition, even though all of their members (except for junior Gardner Stewart) are new to the jazz band. Grubb said that working with Chorale, Sounds and Rediger has been a smooth process.

“Working with Rediger is a really good experience,” Grubb said. “She’s given us a lot of freedom to do our thing while running a really good show. I have a lot of trust in her. I hope collaborations in the future (will) happen between us.”

Some of the members felt the most challenging aspect of this concert was the lack of time to prepare for it. The groups didn’t rehearse during J-term because many members were gone, so when the semester started, the performers hit the ground running.

With sparse rehearsals and the concert inching closer every day, these groups are working extra hard to make sure the concert is the best it can be.

“The challenge is that we have less than two weeks to plan the concert, but the joy is that I know the singers in Chorale and Sounds can get this quickly and sing it well,” Rediger said. “Every student has the option of finding something they can contribute to the evening, so we all take ownership. It’s kind of a no-fail event.”

The Jungle Cats also have to be flexible with their repertoire. They have four practices in total, and their goal is to prepare seven or eight songs. A lot of the music for this event is not jazz, so the performers are hoping to have enough time to practice these different pieces.

Tickets are sold out, but students are welcome to come to a free reproduction of this event on May 4 on Wheeler stage in the Campus Center. This event will not have a catered dinner, but it will be a chance for students to eat Chick-fil-A, dance and enjoy themselves with some of Elvis’s greatest hits.

“I just hope that the audience has as much fun watching the Chorale and Sounds perform as we will (have) performing the music,” Gamble said. “Expecting perfection in the concert isn’t possible or realistic because every performance can be made better. . . . It’s amazing the high level that Chorale can perform (at) even with just a few rehearsals, but I hope that Chorale can relax and enjoy themselves during this time.”

The Chorale, Sounds and Jungle Cats will present “Love Me Tender: A Tribute to Elvis” on Saturday, February 11 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

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