Ohio State choirs collaborate to make music accessible to campus community

The Lantern
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The Ohio State Women’s Glee Club after finishing a recent rehearsal just before Halloween. Credit: Courtesy of Jordan Saul

For those looking for an alternative to their daily music rotation, Ohio State choirs are teaming up to provide a free musical experience.

The University Chorus and the Women’s Glee Club will partner up to host a concert Sunday at North Broadway United Methodist Church, Robert J. Ward, associate professor of music and service director of choral activities, said. He said this particular performance is the second joint choir concert of the season and will allow both vocal ensembles to demonstrate their dedication and skill via impressive set lists, all at an accessible venue.

The University Chorus caters to those who possess a deep appreciation for singing, but not substantial free time, Ward said. The choir is open to all Ohio State students, faculty and staff, and rehearsals are from 5:20 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. two days a week, according to their website.

“In the University Chorus, we’re doing our best to take the diversity, equity and inclusion philosophy of campus to heart,” Ward said.

This versatility in backgrounds and experience level is made possible by focusing on musical literacy and musicianship, Maria Trusty, a fourth-year in English and soprano section leader, said.

“I would describe the atmosphere as wonderful and productive,” Trusty said. “My favorite part is rehearsal because we have so much fun. We want to help each other get better, no matter what level you start at.”

Oral skills, hearing intervals, reading rhythms and understanding the differences between major and minor chords are just a handful of the concepts studied during rehearsals, Ward said. The choir seeks to prioritize progress over perfection.

“These students sing for all the right reasons,” Ward said. “Some of them have hearts that are bigger than their throats, and when they walk into the room, they check their egos at the door.”

For the upcoming concert, the University Chorus plans to sing in English, Latin, Hebrew and Spanish, Ward said.

The Women’s Glee Club is a curricular ensemble and a student organization committed to building a community of talented women who support each other in all endeavors, Leah Mattas, a fourth-year in marketing and the club’s president, said.

Jordan Saul, associate professor for choral music education and the director of Women’s Glee Club, said this concert is an opportunity for the 64-person company to acknowledge the global pandemic without dwelling on it and includes a piece arranged specifically for the choir by singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson.

“We start with describing death in the divine sense, in the visceral sense, and the expansive loneliness that comes with loss,” Saul said. “After death, we have a set of pieces that are all about birth and the renewal of life that starts with the wonder and mystery of a tiny infant. Our final set is about acknowledging the difficulties of our life right now.”

Just as vocalists tackle outside projects while still participating in the ensemble, prospective audiences can still indulge in live choral music while balancing their own busy lives, Mattas said.

“Supporting music in general is an enrichment in your life,” Mattas said. “Each artist, each choir, each band, each orchestra, they all have their own message through their music, and the message and the story behind the music is why you should be there.”

The concert will be Sunday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at North Broadway United Methodist Church, located at 48 E. North Broadway St. Masks will be required for performers and attendees. More information about this concert and other events can be found on the School of Music’s event page .

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