Distinctive melodies filled the halls of the Redfern Arts Center as Keene State College held its Chamber Singers auditions.
Auditions were held from August 29 to September 2, and 24 singers showcased their unique vocal ability. Assistant Professor of Music Education, Sandra Howard, stressed the importance of vocal range.
Throughout auditions, Howard would constantly question “the quality of sound,” and would make sure that each note was “bright, clear, consistent and in-tune,” she said.
In order to assemble the ensemble, Howard sought out idiosyncratic voices that had the ability to blend together “to create a richness.”
The vocalists’ ability to have “control over their voice to mold to other sounds too” was another attribute that Howard desired.
During auditions, singers were required to prepare a one to two minute excerpt that would be sung a cappella along with a voice part of Bach chorale “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light.” The chorale “gives them an even playing field… it shows if they have the skills to perform something on their own,” said Howard. The excerpt gave vocalists the opportunity to choose a song they were “comfortable singing” and gave them the chance “to own it,” said Howard. Based on what song each singer choose, Howard was able to determine if they had the ability to sing “more lyrically or rhythmically.”
For senior Sean Meagher, singing is more than just a person’s ability.
“Music is what I’ve succeeded at most in my life; it’s something I’ll have and it’s something I can go back to,” he said.
Meagher has been performing since his freshmen year of high school and joined Chamber Singers his junior year.
Chamber Singers has had “some of the most challenging music I’ve had to do, but it’s the most rewarding,” said Meagher. You gain experience “performing these tough works that are masterpieces,” Meagher added.
However, for Meagher, Chamber Singers is more than a performance, “it’s the atmosphere of having all your friends around you and you’re all going through the same thing, it’s a good support system,” he said.
Like Meagher, singing has become more than just a passion for sophomore Jenna Foley. Foley’s singing career began when she was in 5th grade, and she has been avidly involved in Chamber Singers for the past two semesters.
“Music is everything to me. It can make me feel better or worse,” said Foley. The Music Department and Chamber Singers “have become like a family to me,” she said.
Foley’s passion has given her the ability to not be “afraid to sing anything… I’ll try no matter what it takes,” she said. Artists such as Adele, Ingrid Michaelson, Kate Nash, and Sara Bareilles have instilled in Foley a sense of inspiration. “I look for powerful women I can relate to,” Foley said.
Sophomore Hannah Hall, is also influenced by the sounds of Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. Hall has been singing since the third grade and was a part of Chamber Singers last year. With a major in Music Education, Hall hopes “to be someone who can inspire the younger generation because music is something that is beneficial to your education,” she said. Even though inspiring others is Hall’s future, music now serves as an “outlet, a way to express myself, it’s a hobby,” she said.
For most singers, music is not only a way to express their moods or emotions, but it is a way to relieve stress. “Music is one of those things I love,” sophomore Pam Bump said. “I do it to relieve stress, I do it for entertainment, it’s a passion or a hobby,” she said.
Bump has been singing her whole life but has spent the past five years growing and developing as a singer in private lessons. Being a member of the honors Chamber Singers at her high school helped prepare Bump for taking on a role in last year’s Chamber Singers.
“I love singing in a group because you get that feeling of harmony,” Bump said. “It’s the teamwork of music, usually you see people fighting for solos, but in Chamber, you fight as a team to put it on,” Bump added.
In a group such as Chamber Singers, “you are constantly learning, whether it’s listening, singing,” said senior Bailey Emerson. Emerson, who will be a student conductor this year, has been singing in “choir all through high school” and has been involved in musical theatre since she was 5 years old, she said.
This year, Emerson “will be conducting two pieces in the fall concert,” she said. With Dr. Howard as her conductor, Emerson said that she and the other singers will be “constantly learning.”
As auditions for Chamber Singers come to a close and the wait for the final roster begins, Meagher and the other singers are constantly reminded and encouraged by Dr. Howard to “always use your voice as your instrument,” Meagher said.
Samantha Norton can be contacted at email@example.com