Story by Natalie Hendricks
The CSU Men’s Chorus and University Choir will share the stage in their semi-annual performance at the University Center for the Arts on April 7.
Featuring beautiful melodies and a unique range of rhythms, the two choruses each will perform several pieces by American composers and beyond the Western tradition at 7:30 p.m. in the Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts.
To begin the evening, the Men’s Chorus presents “The Music of Living,” representing a theme of exquisite melodies written for men’s voices. Their half of the concert is a collection of pieces that celebrate unity, brotherhood and men working together to create beauty and harmony through music.
In addition to pieces from the American musical tradition, there are melodies from Japanese composers. One of the most exciting pieces, Yagi-Bushi by Ko Matsushita, is entirely in Japanese.
Singing in Japanese is a difficult task and a unique experience for the singers. The piece is fast and rhythmic, but the students have been able to work together in learning the pronunciation and complex rhythms.
“This semester we are fortunate to have two Japanese students in the Men’s Chorus,” said Olsen. “They have really helped us with the pronunciation and perspective on the Japanese songs. It is also fun to highlight the cultural diversity in our ensemble.”
The university’s all-male choir encompasses the enthusiasm the students have for singing, while representing a wide range of talent at CSU. “They sing because they love it and genuinely want to share their passion. As a result, this concert is fun for audiences and performers alike,” said Olsen.
Following the Men’s Chorus, the University Choir, featuring over 85 voices, will perform six contemporary sacred Christian pieces from composers of different nationalities, including Estonia, Hungary, Norway, Creek Indian and America.
The sacred pieces from different corners of the world are mostly by living composers, even though not all of the works are of a contemporary style.
“I am always thinking, ‘How can I use music as a tool to teach singing technique and musicianship to my students?’” said Director Stuart Dameron.
Dameron’s students prepared the sacred works by researching the languages and helping one another pronounce the foreign words. The phrasing of the spiritual styles can be detected within American mainstream pop music, which has made the learning experience fun and accessible for the students.
“Through the similar styles, you can draw a close connection. And, because it is so connected to music [my students] already enjoy, I think they really get into it,” he said.
With a piece the audience may recognize from the Disney animated movie Frozen – “Vuelie,” composed by Norwegian composer Frode Fjellheim – the performers will leave the audience clapping along to the beat.
“Everybody enjoys something that has a pop culture sound to it, and my singers kind of flipped out a little when they recognized the melody, and the audience will too,” said Dameron. “There is going to be clapping, and people are going to feel like getting up and dancing. It will be full of energy!”
Tickets for the performance are no charge for full-fee paying CSU students, $1 for youth (under 18), and $12 for the public. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts ticket office in the UCA lobby Monday through Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 60 minutes prior to performances, by phone at (970) 491-ARTS (2787), or online at www.CSUArtsTickets.com.