GVSU student musicians perform choral concert

By Tasman Mattox | 4/26/18 1:20pm

GVL / Sheila Babbitt The University Arts Chorale and Cantate Chamber Ensemble perform under the direction of Professor Ellen Pool on April 16th, 2018.

The harmonies were easy to find and easier to enjoy at the choral concert Monday, April 16. The performance, featuring the GVSU Cantate Chamber Ensemble, the University Arts Chorale and a variety of pieces, was given to a sizable audience at the Cook-DeWitt Center. 

The University Arts Chorale is a 35-member ensemble, and the Cantate Chamber Ensemble features 12 members. Both groups are conducted by Ellen Pool, an assistant professor who coordinates Grand Valley State University’s choral program. 

Pool said the journey to the concert is labor-intensive but exciting.

“It begins with the selection of the music and then working in segments to prepare," she explained. "The process is long and goes in various steps, and then hopefully we end in an honest presentation in terms of what was composed."

The music featured in this concert included Silvestri, Rommereim and other composers. It ended with the traditional and spiritual "Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down."

“This music was selected because I try to show a variety of music for each concert so that students will learn to adapt to various types of music,” Pool said. “I often pick because of the text.”

The music selection was well-enjoyed by the audience, too.

“I really liked the uniqueness of each piece performed,” said Waverly Eubank, a GVSU freshman who attended the event. “It really showed the range of the groups and how well they could work together to create different types of music. It made the concert very interesting to watch.”

The students learn a lot from being involved in the community.

“They grow individually, of course, with their musical skills; they have to learn to be independent musicians," Pool said. "They spend many hours outside of rehearsals, and I would hope they grow as individual musicians. I also hope they would grow in more human ways as we talk about the words of the music, their meaning and significance, and why the composer created the music a specific way. The fun is also the camaraderie of all coming together with the common goal of creating this music.”

One song, “Peace, Night, and Sleep” by John Muehleisen, was dedicated to Jacob Owen Jager, a former member of both ensembles who passed away this year.

“For me, the piece dedicated to Jacob was very personal, and that was a very moving moment,” Pool said. 

Pool also expressed her joy in leading such a talented group of students.

“I’m always proud of their work and how they’re focused in the performances,” she said. “The students are focused and eager to just do their best.”

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