Trinity’s Chamber Singers were chosen to perform for the National Collegiate Choir Association in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The students and conductor Gary Seighman performed the program “Ring Out Ye Northern Ecstasies!” for a large audience of choir members.
The students performed the morning of Friday, Nov. 3. The experience was stressful at times, with a long bus ride from San Antonio to Baton Rouge.
“It was a whirlwind, because we were gone for 36 hours, 16 of which were on the bus, and 8 or so were asleep,” said senior Shane Bono, who recently took second in the Rosalind Phillips Vocal Excellence Competition. “It was definitely a whirlwind, but it was a lot of fun.”
Seighman, who directs the choir, says that the conference strengthened his relationship with his students.
“Preparing for our featured performance at this conference, we spent countless hours refining our technique and exploring the artistic essence of each piece we performed. And because our voice is our instrument, singing is a very personal form of artistic expression. So when we are charged with trying to achieve a unified sound among 44 singers, one cannot help but connect on an emotional level with those around us,” Seighman said. “What continues to amaze me is how much grit our students show in every rehearsal. Their constant attention to detail and willingness to take a chance is truly inspiring.”
First-year Trace Glorioso called the trip a magical experience.
“Sitting down and going through the music the day of the concert, there were a lot of butterflies but I got through it and then we got on stage, we kicked some butt, we sang some really good stuff,” said Glorioso. “I feel really honored to be a part of it.”
The convention was held in an intimate setting that lent itself to powerful performances.
“It was a small venue. It was in a little church, but all the people who attended were important people, like my choir director’s old teachers and professors,” Bono said. “So a lot of noteworthy people were in attendance, and only 12 choirs from around the nation were asked to sing. And our director was just so moved, and when we were singing our final piece you could tell he was starting to tear up during the performance.”
For Glorioso, the experience was a reminder of music’s cultural importance.
“I really learned that music is not just about performing it. I really learned that it’s a connection between people,” Glorioso said. “We were singing songs in Latin and German and Estonian and … it didn’t matter what we were saying “” there may have been a language barrier between the audience and us, but there was a universal message.”
Seighman shared his amazement that the choir had been invited.
“Most of the choirs invited come from schools literally 10″“20 times our size and having large conservatories with hundreds of music majors,” Seighman said. “What I didn’t expect was to be approached by a number of other choral conductors at small liberal arts schools like ourselves who said that our invitation gave them renewed spirit “” that we proved it was possible to reach this performance level with a choir full of different academic majors. I’ve said this before, but it is the equivalent of being invited to one of the major college football bowl games and being among all Division I schools.”
He also shared his favorite song from the program.
“Personally, my favorite song would probably have to be “˜Singet dem Herrn,’ a setting of Psalm 98 by the early 20th-century German composer, Hugo Distler,“ Seighman said. “It is about six minutes of virtuosic acrobats with key modulations every few seconds, countless meter changes, and requiring the finest mental and vocal stamina just to get through the a cappella piece, let alone allowing the artistic expression to come out.”
The choir’s participation in the conference was unexpected, but wonderful for everyone involved.