The Hammond School Select Ensemble
Columbia, SC U.S.A.
The Hammond School Select Ensemble is the premier auditioned choral group of Hammond School in Columbia, South Carolina. Under the direction of Steven Hillard, this mixed group of 48 singers has shared their gift of music to audiences both nationally and internationally.
Since its conception in 2003, the Select Ensemble has achieved several substantial accomplishments. In March 2003, they were invited to be the featured choir in the performance of Randall Thompson’s “Frostiana” with The National Philharmonic Orchestra in Washington DC. Following this performance the choir released their first CD in the summer of 2003.
In February of 2004, the Hammond School Select Ensemble had the privilege and honor to embark on their first international concert tour, “One World, One Voice.” This tour took these young singers through the musically and culturally rich country of Austria. While on tour, they delighted audiences with formal concerts in Salzburg and Innsbruck, as well as numerous “impromptu” performances throughout the country.
The members of the Select Ensemble strive to reflect the theme of global unity through music with its high standards of choral repertoire. Holding many awards and honors, the Select Ensemble’s primary focus is to share their gifts of choral music through hard work and dedication.
In 2006 the choir participated in a concert tour through the “Heart of Italy,” where the choir performed for over 800 in Rome’s Church of the Gesu. During this tour, the choir was honored to sing as the primary choir for Vigil Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Hammond School Select Ensemble spent eight days singing throughout the Czech Republic during their 2008 New Year’s concert tour. Featured as choir-in-residence during high mass at St. Vitas Cathedral in Prague was just one of the many highlights this group encountered as they presented their program, “Carols of the World.” In 2008, The Select Ensemble completed a nine-day concert tour through Germany, Austria and Italy in December and January. Performing as mass choir for Salzburg Cathedral in Austria, the Cathedral of San Marco in Venice and the first choir of 2009 to lead mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Before returning home, the choir gave a final performance for the city of Rome to a standing-room-only audience in the Church of the Gesu.
Click here to see pictures from the 2008 tour.
In 2010, the Select Ensemble completed an international concert tour from Vienna, Austria to Krakow, Poland. Sing mass in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow. The most notable musical moment and life changing experience was with the choir’s specially prepared gift of song while visiting Auschwitz, Poland.
Click here to see pictures from the 2010 tour.
The students of the Hammond School Select Ensemble are proud to be musical ambassadors and representatives of our school, our community, or state and our nation.
Steven Hillard, a graduate of The University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Music Education (Choral) and Vocal Performance, has toured both nationally and internationally as the tenor soloist for various university and Columbia community choirs for more than 16 years. In December 2004/January 2005, he conducted throughout Jerusalem and Bethlehem, as well as The Church of the Gesu and Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Over the past six years, Mr. Hillard has conducted throughout Central and Eastern Europe with his high school choral ensemble, most notably in the Cathedral of San Marco in Venice, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Vitas Cathedral in Prague, the Salzburg Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Venice, throughout Innsbrook, Munich, Florence and Poland.
Locally, for 15 years, he served as the associate director of music for Trenholm Road United Methodist Church in Columbia, SC, where he assisted, oversaw and implemented many of the programs of that music ministry. Steven consistently conducts numerous South Eastern regional choral clinics and concert festivals for children and youth choirs.
In 2001, he started the choral program at Hammond School involving students in grades 5th through 12th. Since 2001, the involvement of students in the music program has grown from less than 50 to more than 500 and now includes choirs for all ages. Choirs under his baton include The Hammond School Singers, Hammond School Concert Choir, Seven at Seven Men’s Ensemble, Bel Canto Women’s Ensemble, the Hammond School Select Ensemble. Steven has been educated, as well as both conducted and sung under, such notable directors as Dr. Larry Wyatt, Dr. Andrea Thomas, Dr. Anton Armstrong, Dr. Weston Noble, Dr. Martha Shaw, Moses Hogan, and Dr. John Yarrington.
Lucinda Shields is an interdisciplinary musician who combines her piano skills with a background in literature, singing and theater. She holds a B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary and a Masters degree in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music. Mrs. Shields has performed extensively with soloists and opera and theater companies throughout the Northeast.
Now a six-year resident of Columbia, SC, Lucinda has played for four seasons of opera productions at Columbia College and performed with USC Opera and Dance as well as a number of classical groups in the area on piano, harpsichord and organ. She directed the music for Hammond's recent production of The Wedding Singer and has toured with the Hammond Select Ensemble on their trips to the Czech Republic, Austria and Italy.