In a secluded practice hall in the basement of the Liberal Arts building, voices converged and radiated throughout the entire floor.
Fifty students circled a piano in the middle of the room with their mentor listening intently to each voice.
“Can you give me more forte this time?” Associate Professor of Music Daniel Craig asked.
The students complied and the room was filled to the brim with a medley of voices, ranging from sopranos and baritones, gentle and roaring.
All of this is the culmination of eight months of practice that Craig and the 50 choir members have put in for the spring concert. Both the chamber and women’s choirs will play various pieces Feb. 28 in Rice Library’s 2nd Floor Reading Room.
The concert does not have a general overarching theme, but will instead be filled with pieces that contain related themes and poetry, Craig said.
The pieces were chosen by Craig himself to fit with the group’s talent, and some of the selected pieces will be performed in the Mayo International Choral Festival in Ireland.
“Honestly, it’s one of the best groups I’ve ever had,” Craig said. “This choir has learned very well how to stay in tune and listen to one another as they sing. If we give them a pitch in the beginning of a piece and at the end you play that pitch again, they’ll still be where it’s supposed to be.”
Choir member Claire Hirsh said her brother was a key factor in her involvement in choir.
As a freshman, Hirsch said the quality of production and the enthusiasm of the group is quite different than what she experienced at the high school level.
“A lot more is expected from you and you can put better quality music forward,” Hirsh said. “Everyone has such a passion for making beautiful music that I haven’t seen before. Seeing how everyone is so motivated and so ready to make beautiful music reminds me of how lucky I am every day.”
Fifth year senior and choir member Jordan Taber has also made choir a core part of her life. This year is her fourth year singing for the club and she said she has fond memories of the Irish pieces the group has sang in the past. The sense of community is something she has in common with the other members, and she feels it is something special.
“(The Madrigal Feaste) is when everyone comes together for the first time, usually when the freshmen come in we’ve already established a community in the past year with our friends,” Taber said. “Then Madrigal comes and we have to be around each other for 10 hours that day. It forces you to talk to people you normally wouldn’t, but not in a bad way.”
For freshman Andrew Ramsey, choir is familial and he has been surrounded by it his entire life. His brother takes part in the program with him and his parents also participated in choir groups.
He felt at home at the university the moment he met Craig, Ramsey said.
“I came down to take my placement tests and wanted to see if (Craig) was going to be at the orientation for transfer students. He goes ‘Well, are you interested in auditioning now?’ and it threw me off,” he said. “His professionalism, knowledge of music and experience, that’s part of (the homeliness).”
Ramsey encourages all students to attend the event and help them experience the emotion they try to evoke in their pieces and enjoy themselves.
“People don’t realize we are here. I lived an hour away from here my entire life, and I never knew that USI had a group like this until I got here,” Ramsey said. “People don’t realize we are here. It’s a free concert. Come and enjoy it.”
What: Spring Choir Concert
When: 3 – 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28
Where: Rice Library 2nd Floor Reading Room
Cost: Free to attend