GVSU choral ensemble holds first annual concert

By Carmen Smith | 10/31/16 12:10am

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GVL / Luke Holmes - GVSU Select Women's Ensemble performs in the Cook-DeWitt Center Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016.


The first annual Grand Valley State University choral concert took its audience on a musical trip from start to finish with a variety of songs from madrigal classics to spiritual numbers and vocal percussions. The concert was held Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the Cook-DeWitt Center.

The concert began with a small, 16-voice group called the Cantate chamber ensemble. The Cantate is an auditioned group of men and women who performed a myriad of pieces without a conductor.

Following the Cantate chamber ensemble was the University Arts Chorale, a group made up of 48 students and conducted by GVSU music professor Ellen Pool.

The University Arts Chorale kicked off their performance with a light, upbeat number called “Cantate Domino” by Josu Elberdin, followed by “Mass in E-Flat, Op. 109: Kyrie, Gloria” by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger, and an excerpt from an E.E. Cummings poem transposed into song titled “I Carry Your Heart” by Connor Koppin. The concert closed with an all-vocal percussion piece titled “Nyon Nyon” by Jake Runestad.

The GVSU music department is expanding the barriers of choral music with the multiple choirs available and different student-led opportunities, including GVSU Choir Council.

“The greatest thing about Grand Valley’s music department specifically is that it’s small enough where you really get a family feel, but it’s large enough that you have many varied opportunities and some competition, whether it’s instrumental or vocal,” GVSU student and choir member Jack Phillipson said. “With choral music specifically, you are the instrument. Being able to master that and being able to put that with other people who come from such varied backgrounds, you could be standing next to someone who comes from a completely different country or culture than you, but you have that one thing that connects everyone, and that’s the music.”

This past Friday, Oct. 28, the University Arts Chorale was selected to travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a choral conference, providing an opportunity to help put GVSU on the map.

“Our choirs, they’re all fine students," Pool said. "They’ve all been really focused on these concerts, they’re prepared and are eager to share their music.

"I hope that audience members receive the music, and that they will be able to comprehend how each choral composition is an entity within itself. Our choirs approach each composer’s work in a unique way, so we are communicating the text in a sensitive way, while being true to the text. We want to show that we are enjoying what we’re doing and that the audience can walk away having felt a connection with the music.”

The choral groups of GVSU encourages all students on campus to come out and support them at their next upcoming concert.

“Attention to music in general is very important because it’s art that is timeless. It’s across the world and cultures, and here at Grand Valley especially, we tap into those different cultures and are inspired by different things and different emotions,” Phillipson said. “It’s cool to see what we have going on here, it’s never-ending. The more time you spend at Grand Valley, the more things you go to, and the better it gets.”

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