Singers came pouring in from all over the state, ready for music and adventure on the campus of Muskingum University. The lobby was buzzing with excitement as we all arrived, anticipating a week of fun. Some of us had shared time together a month ago on the Cardinal Chorale’s summer tour; others of us haven’t seen each other since the Encore! Honors Choir dispersed last August, and we are also welcoming some new singers to our ranks. We all checked in and moved our luggage into our rooms in Kelley Hall. Then we met our roommates for the week and, after some time spent socializing, we walked across Muskingum’s beautiful campus to start our first rehearsal.
Laughing and happy to be together again, we gathered on the risers in the music hall and began to sort through all of our new music. After getting out the pieces of music we needed, we opened up the first song, Lift Up Your Eyes, and began to sight-read. The sound was beautiful, especially for a group that has never sung together before! We can’t wait for our next chance to sing!
After this rehearsal, we all knew that there was work ahead of us, but we could see the wonderful potential and that was thrilling. We moved to voice checks after rehearsal, so our directors could learn how to best use our individual voices. A voice check consists of finding the highest and lowest notes a singer can perform comfortably and listening to the timbre and quality of each voice. The sopranos were checked Jen Sper, head of all things choral at Stanton’s Sheet Music in Columbus. Chad Putka, who will begin pursuing his master’s degree in music education at Boston University this fall, checked the altos. Matt Downing, an elementary music teacher for Newark City Schools, checked the tenors. Matt McTeague, who is pursuing his master’s degree in choral conducting at Ohio University, checked the baritone section and Mr. Snyder, the director of the Cardinal Chorale, checked the basses. After voice checks, we took a tour of Muskingum’s wonderful campus and were sure to check out the music hall where we will be rehearsing for the next four days. After the tour, we all gathered on the risers again and started our second rehearsal. We practiced a few pieces that were familiar to some returning members of the Chorale, and a few pieces that were new to everyone. All of us were shocked at the sound we were able to produce already and are excited to hear the sound at the final concert.
Once the rehearsal portion of the day came to a close, the Chorale and other audience members were treated to a show put on by several of the Cardinal Chorale’s very own staff: Matthew Downing, Haley Evans, Peter Hampton, Erin Jobes, Chad Putka, Joshua Senn, and Jennifer Sper. They performed a shortened version of their previous show, “One Enchanted Evening: A Musical Theater Showcase”. The staff members produced the original show to raise money for scholarships that allowed members of the Chorale to come to this workshop at Muskingum University. Their idea for the showcase started about four years when the friends began to gather together for “Musical Theater Night” in the Evans household, as they danced and serenaded Haley’s dog (they’re very proud of that)! It was so great to see our staff members, who we all look up to in a professional position, as completely different characters, some serious and some not so serious. It was also nice to see that they are friends and have a fun time singing together.
Once the show was over, we asked questions about their passions and favorite musical theater roles. Then the Chorale ended our night by meeting in our ‘Opus Huddles’. To further explain, we have 8 opera (the plural of ‘opus’). Each Opus is comprised of two staff members and 5-6 Chorale members. It’s a fun way to meet new people in a small setting! Tonight, we all gathered to play games and eat snacks while getting to know one another. Judging by the amount of laughter and boisterous talking, the Chorale, once again, has come together without skipping a beat, already creating its own brand of unique harmony. A new era of the Cardinal Chorale has begun and, after only ten short hours, we have begun what will be a great crescendo of music and love once more.