The Slippery Rock University choirs held their first fall semester concert on Wednesday, titled “An Evening of Choral Music.” The three choirs performed four songs each, followed by a rendition of “This Is Me” by all three choirs. Selections ranged from pop music to traditional folk songs, originating from South Korea to Colombia to the U.K.
This year, the choral program has two new directors in Timothy Little Trân and Yoona Jeong. “An Evening of Choral Music” was their first concert with the department.
For freshmen, the concert with their first with the SRU choral program. Trisha Holmes, a double major in music education and vocal performance, sang a solo during the chamber singers’ act.
“Whenever I did choir [before college], it was still a great experience, but I ended up leaving after middle school,” said Holmes. “I didn’t feel there was a deeper connection to the music. But being here, everybody is so dedicated. Dr. Trân really emphasizes emotional connection to all of the material we’re given, which is changing my singing, and I think changed my experience with choir in general.”
Ricky Osman, a freshman musical theatre major, spoke on the sense of community within choir.
“Everybody has a sense of love for not only the music, but for everybody else,” Osman said. “It’s not just about singing. It’s about making art and sending a greater message.”
Leah Buczek, president of SRU choirs, is a senior facing her final fall concert. Buczek is a vocal performance major who, after college, plans to teach at a college level and direct a church or community choir.
“Choir has always been one of my favorite things,” she said. “It’s like my safe space. It has helped me to grow as a musician, a performer and an individual. … I feel very prepared to go into the real world and apply those skills when I’m in my graduate degree and beyond.”
Each choir – treble, concert and chamber singers – showcases different music styles that students in choir may choose to focus on.
“It really showcases different voices and the different things that choirs can do,” Buczek said. “Chamber singers sing jazz, while concert choir [might] focus more on classical. Having a treble choir was really interesting, to hear about how soprano and alto voices work together without other voice parts.
“Every time you sing with a different group of people, it’s going to be a unique experience,” she continued. “I think it’s a cool way to show individuality through a group, if that makes sense.”
The new directors purposely chose a diverse selection of music, rather than covering the classics.
“One of the big things Dr. Trân emphasizes is diversity, equity and inclusion,” Holmes said. “Our pieces come from diverse backgrounds, and I think it’s important that we’re telling everybody’s stories and vouching for that kind of equity.”
In summer 2023, the choirs are planning a tour of Italy and France. The trip, which was originally scheduled for summer 2020, will provide opportunities for students to learn, experience cultures that they learn about in their classes and share their own culture.
Osman described their performance as having “strong messages and strong sound.”
“I’m excited to share what we’ve worked on for the past three months with our families and our friends,” Holmes added. “I’m excited for this music to touch other people in the way that it’s touched me.”