It was 2001 and I was a home schooled highschooler of sixteen at Normandale Community College, thanks to Minnesota’s PSEO opportunities. While I had been studying voice and piano for a little while, the choir at NCC was my first experience of choral singing. The sheer mass of sound shattered my perceptions of what was possible with music. This little college choir made me excited to do more. In the 10 years since then, I’ve have had many unforgettably wonderful experiences performing with vocal ensembles and choirs. This post is a small tribute to some of these amazing groups.
The Northwestern College Choirs I had the privilege of singing with cemented the place for choir in my heart.
The ear-training work in NWC Chamber Singers, under the direction of the lovely Dr. Mary Kay Geston prepared me for the rigor of singing with Cantus last year. Geston’s programming was difficult for my young choral mind, but so enriching. The contrast between renaissance music one semester followed by vocal jazz in the next was like jumping into a time machine.
NWC’s Varsity Men’s Chorus and College Choir under the baton of Tim Sawyer brought me out of a shell and gave me a community of music and faith that was a lovely thing. I was privileged to be a part of the life-changing 2006 Eastern European Tour to Germany, Poland, and most notably, Ukraine.
I would be remiss if this post didn’t mention anything about the extension ministries teams at Northwestern College that were such a wonderful community. As an awkward freshman, I performed and toured alongside some wonderfully talented musicians that took me under their wing and helped me understand my place in college.
Dr. Catherine Sailer, director of the Lamont Chorale at Denver University’s Lamont School of Music, created inspiring and beautiful music with a voracity and clarity that is not often seen. Not only does she head up the choral department at one of the most elite music schools west of the Mississippi, but she is also a caring mother of two boys. She is an inspiration for those in this world that are musicians with families.
Cantus. Oh Cantus. While it’s more of a vocal ensemble than a choir per se, I still need to mention it. Few words can describe the joy of performing with such talented men. Not only was I able to rehearse with them during my temporary position last year, I got to perform two concert programs around the metro area and record a Christmas CD. They are a non-profit, full-time, self-led male vocal ensemble. Their performance is crafted in detail. Their programs are full of meaning. Their sound is addictive.
The choir that I’m in now is Evangelion. They exist to bring sacred choral works to Ukraine, especially in secular venues. I’m thrilled to be working with Dr. Dennis Port, director of Bethel University’s choral program. I’ll be heading to Ukraine for the third time this summer. More about this trip later…
Sing with someone. Join a choir. Attend a choir concert. It may change your life.