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In the news: IC's Abby Musgrove, making a difference through music

9.03.2018

Abby Musgrove, IC's director of choral activities and music education and associate professor of music, is featured in the State Journal Register's "Someone to Know" series for her inspirational work as founder and conductor of Spero Chamber Chorale in Springfield.

I have all these music teacher friends around, and they’re like, ‘We are making a difference. Let’s make a difference. Let’s figure out a way to make a difference. What can we do? We can bring hope to the world. We can remind people that there is hope, and then if we work together, if we come together, we can create beauty and truth and all those wonderful things.’
Abby Musgrove, Director of Choral Activities, Associate Professor of Music

Someone to Know: Abby Musgrove, founder of chamber chorale full of hope | by Tamara Browning, Staff Writer, State Journal Register 

JACKSONVILLE -- Abby Musgrove, director of choral activities and music education at Illinois College in Jacksonville, founded a choir that she believes will spread hope and joy to the community.

Musgrove is founder and conductor of Spero Chamber Chorale, a Springfield-based professional vocal ensemble that presented its inaugural concert July 14 at Sacred Heart Convent Chapel, Springfield.

Spero Chamber Chorale will perform its 2018 repertoire a final time this year at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Centenary United Methodist Church, 331 E. State St., Jacksonville. Admission is free.

The word “spero” means “hope” in Latin, and Musgrove said the chamber chorale’s mission is to bring hope and joy to the community through choral song. Members of the chamber chorale come from about a 50-mile radius of Springfield.

“There’s a lot of really great music going on in Springfield, and we’re not here to compete with that. We’re not here to edge anybody out by any means,” said Musgrove, who is a 1996 graduate of Glenwood High School and has a bachelor of music education, a master of music in choral conducting and a doctor of musical arts in choral conducting. Musgrove and her husband, Will Musgrove, have a 2-year-old daughter, Quincy.

“My family runs radio stations in Missouri, and so I kind of grew up in a family surrounded by classic rock and rock and roll and popular music, even country and rap and things like that, but then as a kid, I got into classical music, and I was like, “Ah. This is great. Mozart’s amazing. Beethoven. And then I got into choral music and just went head over heels over that, and so I have this kind of weird background.”

What is it about music that you want to share with students and others in the community?

“My thing is ensemble music. I love to sing solos, and I work with students as soloists, but ensembles are kind of my wheelhouse, and one of the things I love about ensembles is that it is a team that is not necessarily competing against anyone except kind of ourselves.

“Yes, there are ensembles that go and compete and do competitions, but primarily, a choir or a band or that kind of an ensemble is truly bigger than the sum of its parts in the sense that we all have to come together to create something that’s better than any of us individually could do. We can’t do it without everyone. ...

“For me, choral music, when you take music that has multiple parts to it and then you put words to it, vocal and the voice, there’s something special about the spoken word and the sung word that I think ... communicates beyond what words can communicate. It allows us to communicate further than text. I have seen a grown man cry in the middle of a choral piece. Somebody who would never do that, right?

“It also brings together widely diverse people.”

What about Spero Chamber Chorale?

“When I did the Spero choir this summer, part of the reason that I started that group was the past year or two ... just in the world it feels people are angry. People are argumentative with each other. There’s a lot of problems in the world that seem insurmountable, and as a musician, sometimes I feel like I should have been a scientist. I should have been a politician. Am I really making a solid difference in the world, a tangible difference?

“I have all these music teacher friends around, and they’re like, ‘We are making a difference. Let’s make a difference. Let’s figure out a way to make a difference. What can we do? We can bring hope to the world. We can remind people that there is hope, and then if we work together, if we come together, we can create beauty and truth and all those wonderful things.’

“That’s why the choir was named ‘Spero.’ ‘Spero’ means ‘hope’ in Latin. It’s kind of my mantra now that like we as musicians, we are here for a reason, we can make a difference, and we do have something to say to this world that is so angry and so despondent and so depressed. We have something to say, and our message is hope and joy and beauty and love.”

For more information on Spero Chamber Chorale, visit www.sperochoir.org or Facebook.

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of about 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit www.ic.edu or call 217.245.3467 for more information.

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