The Student Newspaper of Groton School

The Circle Voice

New Leader For Groton’s Gospel Choir

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Robert Pate, the new gospel choir director, brings a new set of vocals and unique experiences to the Circle. Hailing from Baltimore, Mr. Pate has distinguished himself from his classmates at public school for singing in adult choirs from a young age and for directing successful church and school choirs.

Mr. Pate has sung chorally since middle school, but only fell in love with gospel choir after hearing the hymn “He Has Done Marvelous Things,” which, he noted, Groton students love as well. Mr. Pate’s musical endeavours escalated after enrolling in a high school for classical musicians, where he began to direct church choirs.

Soon afterwards, Mr. Pate went from Maryland to Massachusetts to attend Berklee College in 2011. Despite taking classes, Mr. Pate did not slow down his musical career, joining the New England Conservatory soon after his arrival. In hopes of singing more gospel music, he also joined the Somerville Community Baptist Church as a tenor soloist and director of the youth choir.

Meanwhile, at Groton School, Director of Instrumental Music Mary Ann Lanier embarked on a search to find a replacement for Mr. Dixon, who left at the end of last year for a job at Phillips Exeter. After Ms. Lanier out to the musical community, Nedelka Prescod, who gave a master class to the students working in The Wiz, recommended Robert Pate. When Ms. Lanier finally interviewed Mr. Pate, she was most impressed with his “beautiful singing and excellent piano playing.”

Students were delighted at Mr. Pate’s arrival. Morayo Fernandez ’19 mentioned that her first impression of him was his kindness and teaching style. “His music is more complex, and the songs sound very nice when we sing them,” added Morayo. For his part, Mr. Pate loved his first few weeks at Groton and emphasized his love for the students, saying that “everybody that comes [to gospel choir] wants to sing.”

Mr. Pate already has plans for the gospel choir this year. Mr. Pate would like to incorporate Aretha Franklin’s music (“gospel choir music with a modern twist”), an interesting change the students will enjoy. Tilly Brooks ‘19 couldn’t agree more, mentioning that in these few weeks, Mr. Pate has already “picked a good range of songs in a way that didn’t happen last year.”  

Further, Mr. Pate has planned something special for the Parents Weekend concert this year. (He wouldn’t reveal what exactly his plans were, but mentioned that the concert will be grander than last year’s, which he saw on video.)  Finally, he would also love to travel with the gospel choir. His first stop? Hopefully, he says, his church in Somerville.

 

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