Through GSB’s music programs, students find expression for their unique voices and learn the techniques to help them experience excellence in performance. Emphasis is placed on the satisfaction that comes from presenting an excellent finished product, and success is measured in terms of how the students feel about the performance they present.
Students are introduced to vocal music in the Lower School, where performances such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker by the kindergarten, and the winter and spring concerts by all grades set the groundwork for later skills. The school also offers children the opportunity to learn piano, guitar, voice, drama and dance in after-school programs.
In Middle School, students participate in formal choral classes, as well joining extracurricular groups. The Honors Choir is an auditioned chorus that meets once a week after school; The Gill Gals & Barbershop Boys, which meet once a week during lunch, are music ensembles open to all sixth graders; Above and Beyond is an extracurricular choral ensemble for fifth and sixth graders that meets once a week in the mornings. In all these groups, students learn and perform choral literature of several styles and cultures.
Upper School students are encouraged to participate in choral music both inside and outside the classroom. Those enrolled in Chorus as a course are eligible to audition for two select groups, the GSB Chamber Singers and the GSB Women’s Ensemble. These groups meet once a week in the evening and focus on more sophisticated musical works. Every year in the spring, GSB mounts a musical play, which provides another showcase for student vocal expression. In addition, Jazz Band, and a Dance Club give students the opportunity to pursue their interests in these fields.
Spotlight: Blue in the Face
Blue in the Face, the newest addition to the Upper School choral program, is a "vocal band" that mixes elements of a cappella singing with the sounds of an indie folk-rock group, and with the singers playing instruments and accompanying themselves. Blue in the Face performances are choreographed, with each member wearing a body mic to allow for freedom of movement on stage.
Upper School Choir Director
For more than 15 years, David Southerland has helped singers, musicians, and actors at GSB refine their craft and better understand the art of performance. Southerland directs all six Upper School choirs: the Concert Choir, The Gillharmonics, The Knightingales, the Knight Brigade, Knight Voices, and the Ambassador Choir. David Southerland holds a B.A. in music with a minor in theatre from Birmingham-Southern College. His post-graduate studies include conducting at USC's Conductor's Institute, directing at the Lincoln Center Theater Director's Lab, and producing at The Broadway League's Commercial Theatre Institute.