A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Athena Festival

Rae Hobbs, Staff Writer - The Mustang Messenger

Monday morning, the MCHS women’s choirs got onto a bus and traveled to Murray State University for the Athena Festival. The Athena Festival is a female focused event, with almost all women’s composers, conductors, and choirs. It is supposed to be an annual festival, but this was the first performance in several years, as COVID put a damper on the annual festival. The festival’s main focus is the empowerment of women in music, and bringing together choirs from totally different schools. This year the festival included one of the Murray State Choirs, Tilghman’s women’s choir, the Christian county choirs, and of course, two of the Mustang Women’s choirs. Each choir prepared one song for their own performance, and then all choirs (aside from the Murray State choir) worked on four pieces as one big group. The pieces performed as a group were: Truth (composed by the conductor of the event), Shine on Me (composed by Rollo Dilworth), Music of Life ( composed by B.E. Boykin), and Stars In Your Bones (composed by Elaine Hagenberg).

Dr. Ramsey let the groups in on the “Truth” behind her writing her contribution to the festival. According to Dr. Ramsey, her mother went into heart surgery, and the surgeon restarted her heart too early and she didn’t make it through the surgery. Ramsey had also just moved to an entirely new state, where she had just started a new job. The total culture shock threw her out of the game. She had talked to the company who had commissioned her and she received an extension. She mixed up the deadline for another piece though, and ended up writing the piece in four days! Ramsey commented that she recognized that the song was in some places rough around the edges, and wasn’t the most cohesive, but she wouldn’t go back and revise it as it acted as a period piece and propelled the rawness of the emotion she felt when writing it and what it meant to her.

  Maddi Newlon has been a member of choir since fourth grade, and this was not her first Athena festival. “Athena went very well! I had a blast and learned a lot of techniques from our conductor. I think everyone had a great time.Athena Festival is an annual festival bringing a bunch of women’s choirs that are also led by women together to sing a few songs together and one separate. We learn, grow, and appreciate music together.” Newlon, as well as the other members of the choir expressed great pride in their performance. Newlon went on to say “This year, and most years that Athena is attended, was in the Lovett Auditorium at Murray State University.I decided to join choir in 4th grade after singing at my 3rd grade talent show and enjoying it greatly.Andrea Ramsey was this years conductor and composer of one of our songs Truth.“  Seeing as this was the first time Athena had occurred since before covid, this meant the festival was an even bigger deal. All choirs performed together and the performance was well received by the audience.