One of Robertson County’s own has been selected to conduct at Carnegie Hall, a well-known concert venue in New York City, during the summer of 2021.
Anighya Crocker, a Springfield High School graduate and music minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Greenbrier, said he was recently contacted by MidAmerica Productions, saying they had heard of his work and wanted him to come and conduct.
The group has offered him a contract to conduct a choir and orchestra, with a work of his choosing on June 5, 2021, according to Crocker, who is currently a junior at Vanderbilt University.
Crocker, who is a double major in Vocal Performance and Law, History and Society, said the offer was unexpected.
“It was an absolute surprise; I was not expecting this at all,” he explained. “I was in between classes, and I got a phone call. That’s the mystery of this business. Sometimes your phone will ring, and you get good news.”
Crocker said for his Carnegie Hall debut, he’s chosen to conduct a work by Austrian composer Franz Schubert entitled The Schubert Mass in G, written in 1815.
The mass includes several movements, lasting approximately 50 minutes.
He will conduct an orchestra composed of members from the New England Symphonic Ensemble in New York and soloists from the Metropolitan Opera. The choir members will include singers from across the country.
“I can invite any choir that I’d like to join me for the concert,” Crocker added. “It’s my wish that as many Tennessee choirs as possible will be able to join me. Since this is my Carnegie Hall debut, it would be special for me to be able to conduct a group of my fellow Tennesseans.”
That being said, Crocker said he has extended invitations to dozens of groups — including all of the Robertson County high school choirs.
So far, White House Heritage High School’s choir has committed to being part of the Carnegie Hall event, Crocker said.
Additionally, Crocker said he is personally taking the Willow Oak Chorale.
The chorale is part of a program at the Willow Oak Center for Arts & Learning, located in downtown Springfield.
“It’s the greatest honor of my musical career so far,” he added. “This opportunity will put me into an international spotlight as well as the choirs that participate. I’m thankful to my network of mentors and supporters for helping me secure and capitalize on this opportunity.”
Musical background and work
Crocker is no stranger to performance and conducting, as his background in the field began early on and locally.
He started in music as a saxophonist with the Springfield Middle School Band. By eighth grade, Crocker discovered his vocal abilities, and thus transitioned his focus to piano and voice.
He took vocal lessons throughout high school from Muzetta Swann Miller at the Willow Oak Center for Arts & Learning.
“I cut my teeth as a musician right here in town,” Crocker said.
His first conducting opportunity arose when he became part of the mentorship program at Willow Oak, which allowed him the chance to get in front of a choir.
Crocker also attended the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, and as a high school senior, he was accepted into the pre-college program at Vanderbilt University.
Today, Crocker said he serves as the assistant conductor of the Vanderbilt Chorale and recently accepted a position as an assistant conductor with the Nashville Symphony Chorus.
He was also scheduled to participate as a semi-finalist in the Lotte Lenya Voice Competition in Manhattan and as a featured artist with the Vann Vocal Institute in Montgomery, Alabama this past week.
Currently, Crocker also serves as the music minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Greenbrier and is the head conductor of the Willow Oak Choir and Orchestra.
He teaches at the Tennessee Vocal Arts Academy in Mt. Juliet and gives private voice lessons.
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Crocker said he plans to pursue his master and doctorate degrees, with hopes of conducting afterwards.
“I love making music and working with people,” he added. “Wherever that takes me, I’ll be happy.”