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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Choir at Colgate: Spreading Social and Musical Harmony

Choir at Colgate: Spreading Social and Musical Harmony
Instagram / @colgatechoirs

Through its choral music program, Colgate University offers two choirs: the University Chorus and the Chamber Singers. The University Chorus is a large, co-ed ensemble of more than 30 students that performs a wide variety of traditional choral music once a semester. Chamber Singers, on the other hand, is a smaller group comprised of 12 to 24 students specializing in singing classical a cappella music at an advanced level.

When choosing what activities to participate in at Colgate, sophomore Gisele Tjan explained that joining the University Chorus and Chamber Singers was an easy decision. 

“I’ve been singing in choirs for a while – since elementary school, to be exact,” Tjan said. “There is just something about being able to make beautiful music with a group of like-minded people that is so rewarding. There is such a range of emotions you can invoke with choral music, and being able to have so many voices combined like that is just an incredible feeling. So I knew when I came to Colgate that I definitely wanted to be a part of the Colgate Chorus and Chamber Singers.”

As the co-president of the University Chorus, Tjan organizes many of the choir’s events, performances and merchandise alongside her co-president, Sophomore Ben Mitchell. 

“We have weekly meetings with Dr. Lee on Tuesdays to talk about the logistics of the choir,” Tjan said. “One of the big things we did was plan our choir retreat, which we had in September and served as a little bonding experience for the choir; we came up with activities to do as well as ordered catering for the whole choir!”

Tjan also sees the choirs as valuable social outlets, explaining that singing with her fellow choir members is a high point in her week.

“I’ve made so many friends from choir,” Tjan said. “I have seriously met so many amazing people that I love. It’s just such a fun and fulfilling group to be a part of, and we really feel proud of our performances because of all the work we have put into it. It’s something I look forward to every day and has become such an integral part of my routine.”

Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Programs Dr. Sinhaeng Lee, who serves as the conductor for both the University Chorus and the Chamber Singers, also values choir as a cooperative activity.

“Our choirs are about collaboration,” Lee said. “I aspire for students to cultivate the skill of listening – both to the music and the people around them. Even though we aren’t a music conservatory, we always strive for excellence in our musical pursuits, viewing it as a pivotal part of collaborative music-making. I trust that they’ll understand the essence of community through this involvement.”

Auditions for the University Chorus and Chamber Singers typically take place in the fall, consisting of a short and simple demonstration of vocal ability for Lee.

“During the ‘Choral Hearing’ audition process, I engage with students [individually] and guide their current thoughts both musically and personally,” Lee said. “After that, it’s straight to the music!”

The Chapel is the primary rehearsal space for both choirs. The University Chorus rehearses for about two or three hours each week, while the Chamber Singers are required to spend a couple more hours per week practicing. Both choirs also travel for performances and group retreats. Despite the time commitment, the University Chorus’ other president, Ben Mitchell, who is also a part of the Chamber Singers, admires the flexibility of both choirs’ schedules.

“The great thing about choir is that these performances work with our schedules so that the time commitment during performance week is balanced out with fewer rehearsals the next week,” Mitchell said. “Because of this, I personally never have trouble balancing school work with the choir, despite how many performance opportunities we have.” 

Overall, Mitchell sees his involvement with the University Chorus and Chamber Singers as integral to his college experience.

“Colgate’s choir exposed me to some of my best friends at this school,” Mitchell said. “I definitely don’t regret joining; it’s a great place to meet people and sing with a phenomenal conductor at the same time.”

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About the Contributor
Reade Fenner, Assistant Baker's Dozen Editor
Reade Fenner is a sophomore from Olney, MD with a prospective concentration in economics and a minor in philosophy. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Baker's Dozen and News sections. On campus, Reade is involved in Colgate's Pet Pals.

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