'A Grand Night for Singing' unites campus musical groups

By Rebecca Godwin, Daily Arts Writer
Published September 25, 2014

Within the University of Michigan, there are dozens of singing and performance groups, from small student a capella groups to the large university glee clubs. The School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s upcoming event, “A Grand Night For Singing,” brings together a number of these groups to perform in the same concert, a rare occurrence.

The concert event, which was started in 2010, is an opportunity for the campus community to see some of the variety performers currently studying in SMTD.

“The goal of this concert is to present excerpts and vignettes from each of these ensembles in order to let the community see all the singing possibilities that are happening on campus,” said Professor Jerry Blackstone, who is the director of Choral Activities, chair of the conducting department and the concert’s artistic director. “So they will hear performances by the Chamber Choir, the University Choir, the Women’s Glee Club, the Men’s Glee Club, the Orpheus Singers and the Opera Theater. They will hear two soloists and they will hear performances by the musical theatre program. It’s a real showcase.”

The concert does not highlight all of the singers on campus, but great care went into selecting those individuals and groups who will be performing. The two soloists, one male and one female, were chosen by the chair of the voice department to represent solo singing, while the others groups were selected to showcase the spectrum of singing that can be found within the school.

“We always try to highlight something from the musical theater program, so I ask the director to put something together; the same is true for the opera folks,” said Blackstone. “We always want the Campus Ensemble to be represented and within the music school, there are three major choirs which we would like to be represented as well.”

Though not every genre of music can be heard in the concert, an effort was made to showcase as many different types of music as possible.

“The program that I’m working on right now is quite varied from musical theatre pieces to some folk pieces to some classical pieces as well,” said Blackstone. “I think there will be a lot of variety of tempos, variety of languages, variety in the way it looks on stage.”

For Blackstone, however, he is excited for audience members to participate in the last big number of the night: a big sing-a-long to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “A Grand Night For Singing.”

“We always end the concert with singing,” said Blackstone. “Most people know it and enjoy singing to it and everyone leaves with elevated spirits; it’s a wonderful and joyous way to end the concert.”