Jane Froman Turns 105

Jane Froman
Columbia College presented a concert in her honor.

By Whitney Dreier

Guests left Dorsey Chapel with a song in their hearts  after the Nov. 8 concert in honor of Jane Froman’s 105th birthday.

The Jane Froman Singers, a choral ensemble of 35 students, performed at 11 a.m. on the Columbia College main campus. The fourth annual birthday show was free and open to the public; the choir presented several songs in preparation for its upcoming concert tour of Ireland. “This is an opportunity for the community to hear the choir on campus during the work day,” says JFS Director and music instructor Nollie Moore. “And there is birthday cake!”

“I looked forward to this concert because it’s celebrating our inspiration, Jane Froman, and also because we get to share our talent and hard work with the school,” says freshman Jessica Thompson, who is in her first semester at Columbia College – and in JFS.

A highlight of the show was the announcement of the Jane Froman Scholar. This year, senior Jordan Isgriggs is the recipient. As such, she performed two songs, “Caro Nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto and “The Girl in 14G” written for Kristin Chenoweth. “I feel so fortunate to receive the music scholarship,” Isgriggs says. “Jane Froman was such a wonderful woman and performer, and having the ability to honor her life is a cool thing.”

As a scholarship singer, Isgriggs is required to take choir, voice lessons and declare a music minor (in addition, she’s majoring in history and minoring in anthropology). Isgriggs, in her third year with JFS, is one of eight section leaders, which means she’s the representative for the first sopranos.

“The student who receives this award is the student who makes the biggest contribution to the program overall, both in talent and in service,” Moore explains. Isgrigg’s accolades include singing with the Columbia Civic Orchestra, performing in the South West American Choral Director’s Association’s Honor Choir and placing in the National Association of Teachers of Singing’s Musical Theatre and Classical divisions.

Isgriggs and her choir mates rehearse locally in Practice Hall, a new facility located at 709 N. Eighth St. that features two classrooms, offices for music faculty and eight piano practice rooms. “It is absolutely wonderful, and the opportunities this space provides are pretty endless,” says Isgriggs, who, like all the other JFS, auditioned online to be part of the group. “I get so many opportunities just from doing what I love! I am not a music major, and if I went to any other school, I would not get these opportunities unless I was.”

One such opportunity will present itself in May, when JFS travels to Ireland (along with any guests and alumni who’d like to attend). The choir will perform four shows in four cities (Galway, Killarney, Kilkenny and Dublin) as part of the American Celebration of Music in Ireland. The tour is organized by Music Celebrations International, which matches American performing ensembles with international festivals, commemorative events, anniversaries and other happenings.

“This trip will feature all American music,” Moore says. “We are taking along several alumni as guest musicians and will be making the international debut of a new work for choir and bluegrass ensemble.”
Isgriggs is headed to the Emerald Isle and is looking forward to the trip largely because of Moore’s direction. “He is so passionate about what he does and really makes the experience what it is,” she says. “The fact that he is the director for JFS is the reason why I transferred to Columbia College.”

Thompson agrees, and says she’s looking forward to the trip as well. “Being in this group, you get to meet people who share the same interest in music and singing as you do – even though we all have different interests, different backgrounds and different levels of musical talent,” she says. “It is a very diverse group, with one common goal: to make amazing music and share it with others.”

The Jane Froman Singers perform at the Churchill Memorial in May: