Choral ensembles offer vocal opportunities, credit hours

Choral Ensemble

by Staff Writer Melissa Parker

From the beginning of life, songs are sung. Children take part in sing-a-longs in school. UNA offers many opportunities to expand one’s love of singing with its three choral groups: the Collegiate Singers, the Chamber Choir and the

Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

These one credit-hour classes are open to anyone, said Director of Choral Activities Ian Loeppky.

“There are so many students who might not even be aware that we have choir, let alone that we have good ones,” he said.

Students audition for all choirs, but Collegiate Singers is the first group they must audition for,he said.

“It’s a great place to learn how to sing,” he said.

Senior Amy Johnson said choir is a great place

to make friends.

“We really accept singers of all levels,” she said. “It’s fun. We grow, and we all work really hard together.”

Loeppky said being involved in choir is an experience unlike anything else on campus.

“Where else do you have a whole bunch of people getting together without special equipment in the same place at the same time for a bigger purpose and no one’s sitting on the bench,” he said. “To me, it’s the most important thing in the world.”

The audition process for the

65-member Collegiate Singers is

more like an interview than an

audition, Loeppky said.

“If you’ve got a little bit of experience, I’m sure you’ll be in,” he said. “And if you have no experience, you’ll probably be in.”

Sophomore Evan Hammond said though he comes from a family of singers, he did not sing until his senior year of high school. He auditioned before his freshman year at UNA and made all three groups.

Loeppky said students can audition for Collegiate Singers anytime, but he would like some to audition during exam week.

Students should bring a song they have sung before, he said. Musical theatre is best, but a pop song is fine. If a student is not prepared with a song, one will be chosen for the audition.

Chamber Choir and Vocal Jazz Ensemble are elite choirs students audition for after Collegiate Singers, he said.

Senior Jonathan Bigham, a member of all three choirs, said he would encourage students who make Collegiate Singers to audition for the others.

“If you really want to get to know music itself and get to know your voice and know how everything works, don’t stop at Collegiate Singers,” he said.

The 30-member Chamber Choir is traveling to Italy this year, Loeppky said.

“We’re singing at St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in Christendom,” he said.

Amy Johnson, a member of all three choirs, traveled with the Chamber Choir to Ireland her sophomore year.

“That was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “I feel like if it was really one of the best experiences of her life, she could tell us how so.

Loeppky said trips are made possible by funding from UNA’s administration and fundraisers.

“We’re just unbelievably thrilled and thankful for this,” he said.

The smallest group, The Vocal Jazz Ensemble, is made of 12 to 14 students who sing almost everything acapella, Loeppky said.

“We do really cool music and a lot of it is arranged by them,” he said. “It’s a really fun group and people are itching to get into it.”

Earning extra credits many students need is not the only benefit of being in the groups, he said.

“We offer choral performance awards that start at $500 a semester and they’re open to everyone,” he said.

Though note taking and studying outside of class are important, these classes offer a break from traditional lecture classes, he said. And the final exams are concerts.

Junior Jaleesa Escott said there is a different mindset going to a choral class.

“I just really enjoy it,” she said. “I enjoy the pieces that we do and I enjoy our instructor.”

“Choral ensemble is probably the most fun final exam that anyone will ever take,” he said.

UNA choral is set to host two concerts this month.

The Chamber Choir’s Tour of Italy fundraiser concert held April 21 7:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church. Tickets are available from choir members for $10 or at the door for $12.

The second concert is free and will be held at the UNA Amphitheater April 26 at 3:00 p.m. and feature the Collegiate Singers and the Vocal Jazz Ensemble.