Photo provided by Hannah Hsu
It’s no secret that life at Trinity can get tough. With rigorous classes, a large variety of student organizations and having to climb Cardiac Hill all the time, each day presents new challenges and setbacks. In an environment like this, it’s easy to fall into a negative headspace, something that junior Hannah Hsu realized in the Department of Music.
“Conversations revolve around complaining or suicide jokes, which is not healthy,” Hsu said. “I thought music is this beautiful thing, and I believe that it’s been created by God to uplift us and be life-giving and not life-sucking.”
This was what originally motivated Hsu to create Soli Deo Gloria, Trinity’s new Christian A capella group.
Though it was originally created as part of a music entrepreneurship class, Hsu turned her idea into a reality.
”I wanted to be able to build more community … within the Music Department,” Hsu said.
The name for the group comes from a Latin phrase meaning “for the glory of God only.” It’s actually been used by composers like J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel to signify music that has the sole purpose of worshipping God. This same idea forms the basis for the new ensemble.
“We want the organization to be not about us and not about gaining … popularity,” Hsu said. “We want all the glory to go to God.”
Soli Deo Gloria intends to sing music that carries a positive message in addition to getting involved in the community through service and performances. Hsu hopes to be able to sing at nursing homes, hospitals or any other places that would want their services. While nothing is set in stone yet, Hsu plans to have one-hour rehearsals once a week and at least one performance a semester. She wants to make Soli Deo Gloria a more relaxed ensemble experience.
“A lot of people who just love to sing just don’t have that kind of time to commit or that type of skill,” Hsu said.
A goal of Soli Deo Gloria is to create an ensemble, a collective of like-minded people. By working on a piece of music together, Hsu hopes that her group will build a strong sense of community and friendship.
“I think that’s what’s really beautiful about A capella and just small ensembles in general … Everyone is really connected, and there’s a lot of listening along with the singing,” Hsu said.
The other two members of Soli Deo Gloria that I spoke with agreed wholeheartedly.
“I’ve not been able to sing in a choir setting since middle school and I remember that being something I really enjoyed,” junior Sammi Farnsworth said. “Being able to get back to that camaraderie … and also to do it for the glory of God is an amazing opportunity.”
First year Josh Rea, echoed Farnsworth’s sentiments.
“I decided to do theatre for the last semester of my senior year when we were putting on a musical and I absolutely loved that,” Rea said. “I thought this would be a good fit for me.”
Hsu made sure to emphasize that students interested didn’t need prior experience to join the new group.
“This is an opportunity for people who may not be music majors or who aren’t involved in choir … but who are seeking community and love to sing and love Jesus,” Hsu said.
Hsu plans to work with anyone who is interested regardless of singing ability, especially because it means she’ll be able to put some of her skills to good use.
“I’m really excited about this because I’m actually taking Vocal Pedagogy right now … So hopefully I’ll be able to use all of the music ed stuff I’ve been learning,” Hsu said. “I loved the idea of being a small voice in this huge sound that we could all make together.”
Hsu has many plans for Soli Deo Gloria and anyone interested in Trinity’s new A cappella group can reach out to her for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: In the original version of this article, published on Friday, Sept. 20, Sammi Farnsworth’s name was misspelled. The original version also stated that Hannah Hsu is a senior. Hsu is a junior.