When I was hired five years ago, one of the wishes of the music department was to bring greater visibility to the choral program and its concerts. I am proud to say that we (the students and I) have done that and more. When I arrived in fall 2013, I spent a lot of time getting to know the students and culture of the program that included one chamber choir that had been directed for 42.5 years by Paul Althouse until he retired in 2012. I met with the chorus president, Phil Pacelli and took surveys of the students’ dreams/desires. Out of that initial and continuing feedback along with research into other successful NESCAC programs is the program we have today. We now have two choral opportunities for students (Camel Heard and Chorale) depending on their goals, skill level/training, and time they are able to devote.
Both choirs have been invited to sing at alumni events, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and internationally. We were invited by Professor David Jaffe to be a part of the finale of Carousel and collaborated with the orchestra for a performance of Handel’s Messiah with student soloists coached by our voice faculty. Through the Ammerman Center and OnStage Series, we have participated in masterclasses and collaborated with internationally known artists.
In line with our college vision, we have been active in community engagement. We partnered with New London schools for the inauguration concert of President Bergeron. We have presented collaborative high school choral festivals sponsored in part by the Holleran Center. One of our most favorite concerts to present was a program on the theme of “Home” as a benefit for Habitat for Humanity.
At the heart of the program is our students and I seek to provide an environment that nurtures their gifts and brings out the best in their voices and artistry. I am very proud that our choirs are comprised of students from a large variety of majors and that we have a place for the voice major as well as the student who has never sung in a choir before. To meet our goals and maintain a positive climate, we conduct frequent check-ins via 3 x 5 cards, surveys, quizzes, and self-assessments. Through the ARC, we provide tutors but to those who would like extra help and feedback by a peer. I am also very pleased to have students who have taken the courses in conducting and are now taking leadership roles in the program. Music major, Stephanie Foster ‘18 will be conducting by Mendelssohn’s Verleih Uns Freiden in our upcoming concert.
Since we are an academic institution, it is my job to program music from diverse time periods and languages. Over the period of 4 years, students will have experienced music of all time major periods from chant to modern music. (We had the opportunity to co-commission and premiere a multi-movement work by Tim Takach.) This fall we are presenting a concert on social justice/consciousness. Students brainstormed issues that were on their hearts and minds as well as things they were thankful for. They presented song ideas via a Facebook group and selected their favorites that will be featured in our December concert.
Our choir students work hard in cultivating their craft as artists. Even though we all have voices, coming together to focus on the nuances of each musical moment takes time and effort. In this day and age where there is so much divisiveness, it is amazing that we as a group can come together with the sole focus of bringing a piece of art and community to life. We hope you will join us for our upcoming performances!
Professor Wendy Moy, DMA