Two hours in an MLB auditorium may not sound like a fun weekday evening, but for students in Arts Chorale, one of the premier vocal music groups at the ‘U’, it’s a home away from home.
Arts Chorale Fall Concert
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
“As a college student doing a lot of work, it’s been a nice kind of safe haven,” said choir president and LSA senior Stuart Zeltzer. “It’s a nice break every week, every Tuesday and Thursday, where you come and just kind of hang out and sing and don’t think about anything else for two hours.”
Arts Chorale is a traditional co-ed soprano-alto-tenor-bass choir with about 60 students. Though affiliated with the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, the choir’s participants come from diverse corners of the University.
“I feel like it’s more relaxed than choirs that are with the school of Music, Theatre & Dance,” said School of Nursing sophomore and choir member Rebecca Chen.
Chen added that the musical selections and vocal technique are at “a pretty high level for non-music majors, which is what I was going for.”
Zeltzer said the Arts Chorale is ideal for those who want to keep their vocal music training alive while concentrating in other academic areas.
“The people you get here and that stick with it are the people that love to sing. You get such a passion and such an energy with this group because everybody wants to be here,” Zeltzer said. “These people went out on their own, found this group and said, ‘I want to be part of an ensemble, I want to learn this music, I want to perform it, and I want to be part of something.’ ”
On a campus with no shortage of vocal music groups, Zeltzer managed to find his niche during his sophomore year. Ever since, he has blocked off Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m. for Arts Chorale rehearsals.
“There are a lot of a cappella groups, but they’re small and hard to get into. There’s (Men’s) Glee Club and Women’s Glee Club, but sometimes that’s more of a time commitment. While we do have a significant amount of time, it’s a little bit less, so people that have busy schedules or can’t commit the time to Glee Club or an a cappella group can still continue their singing through Arts Chorale,” Zeltzer explained.
The repertoire of Arts Chorale encompasses everything from classical to contemporary pieces. Tomorrow’s concert will include “Na Goruske, Na Gore,” an obscure traditional Russian piece arranged by O.P. Kolovski, in the same lineup as Ned Rorem’s 1950s piece “From an Unknown Past.”
“My favorite piece is the Tallis,” Zeltzer said, referring to “Nine Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter” by Thomas Tallis. “They’re very solemn, very pious and they have a lot of great harmonies and quick a cappella pieces. They’re really easy to learn but we also have to shape the phrases and really put a lot of music into them,” he added.
“I love the Brahms,” Chen said. “Brahms is one of my favorite composers. There are a bunch of love songs and they’re so beautiful. It’s really fun to sing in different languages for me. I don’t speak German … but it’s really cool to just be able to sing it. We go over the meanings of the songs and what we’re trying to portray as we’re singing and performing.”
For both Chen and Zeltzer, the diverse repertoire and familiar atmosphere combine to make Arts Chorale an unforgettable college experience.
“I can come in here every Tuesday and Thursday and find a group of people that are always there … always having fun,” Zeltzer said. “It doesn’t matter if you had an exam that week or if you had nothing that week, you still come in and have a good time … and that’s why I keep coming back.”