The choir program begins a new season with the inaugural semester of the University Choir. Under the direction of Dr. Ryan Keebaugh, the University Choir is replacing the Men’s and Women’s Choirs. Students participating in either Chamber Singers or Emulate Chamber Ensemble are required to participate in the University Choir, making it the largest mixed choir at EMU.
“I never knew how it was originally, but it seems like a good idea to me,” said sophomore Ben Stutzman, an engineering major from Lancaster, Pa. “It makes it a lot more fun to sing with everyone together, especially the really talented singers who sing in Emulate and Chamber Singers. I think concerts will be powerful with a choir this size and people will be more confident singing with more people of the same part.”
Stutzman started participating in choir this year. “I sang in high school and really enjoyed it but last year I didn’t have time in my schedule for choir. I wanted to do choir at EMU and I’m happy that I can now. I’m not sure how much I will be able to fit it into my schedule but I would like to continue in choir while I’m at EMU,” he said.
Sophomore Joseph Harder, who participated in Men’s Choir and Chamber Singers during the 2016-2017 school year, had positive views of the change. “I like it. I like that it’s a bigger choir and has a wide variety of skill levels.”
In the past, participation in the Men’s and Women’s Choirs was not mandatory for students singing in Chamber Singers or Emulate Chamber Ensemble.
The University Choir is open to any Eastern Mennonite University student by audition and is currently comprised of 57 students from a wide variety of majors and graduating classes. Stutzman said, “I would [recommend being in this choir]. It seems like a really welcoming atmosphere and you don’t have to be an amazing singer to participate and enjoy it.”
Sophomore Robert Chaplin, majoring in music education dual licensure from Buena Vista, Va., was hesitant of joining choir in the past. “I didn’t really think I’d like choir in the past but after talking with Ryan Keebaugh, [he] convinced me to do it. It’s been a really positive experience and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’d like to do it the rest of the time I’m here. I want to become a better vocalist and be more familiar with how choir works.”
The University Choir will perform twice during the Fall 2017 semester: the Music Department Centennial Gala Concert held on Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. in Lehman Auditorium and at the Lessons and Carols Service on Dec. 11, also in Lehman Auditorium at 7 p.m.