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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Faculty, staff call singing ‘a great joy'”

    Faculty, staff call singing a great joy

    Ever wonder what professors do when they aren’t in class or their office?

    For a few of them, the time they are given off of the clock means reporting to the School of Music building for forty minutes of singing practice. You read correctly – singing.

    For the past 10 years, the university has hosted a choir made up of faculty and staff members as well as graduate students. Currently, there are 53 singers on the choir, accompanied by pianist Jennifer Swegle.

    Twice a week during lunchtime, the choir meets to rehearse the semester’s songs. With only 80 minutes a week, the pressure is on for improvement and performance quality.

    “”Yes, it is challenging; the time goes by fast,”” said Rosemary Myers, an alto and program coordinator with the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. “”The practices are … very entertaining. It’s a wonderful way to spend my lunch.””

    Rehearsals make for a “”nice break in the day and a really good stress reliever,”” said Gail Cordy, choir secretary, an alto and a retired hydrologist.

    “”Those two 40-minute periods per week are always islands of harmony in days that aren’t always,”” said John Warnock, a tenor and English professor.

    The choir recently adopted a new director, Justin Raffa, a second-year master’s student in choral conducting.

    “”The best part of this choir is the director,”” Cordy said. “”The choir has a lot of fun and enjoys each other’s friendship, and he really pulls that together. He is an exceptional person and will go far.””

    Raffa said it is ironic for him to direct such a group.

    “”I am probably the youngest member surrounded by people who are experts in their field, yet we all share a love for music making that brings us together twice a week. It is a great joy to work with the group and is one of the highlights of my week,”” he said.

    Raffa is in charge of organizing the performance songs and presenting his ideas to an executive board.

    The group’s repertoire includes music from a variety of historical periods and styles. Mozart is on the bill, as well as African-tinged pieces and works by American composers Aaron Copeland and Gwyneth Walker.

    “”I enjoy the variety of music we perform,”” Cordy said. “”We have done songs in different languages and everything from pop to classical – the whole gamut.””

    Choir members come from not only different educational fields, but varying singing experience, as well.

    Most have at least some exposure through church or high school, while soprano Molly Holleran sings professionally.

    “”I sing with several choirs in town,”” said Holleran, a women’s studies professor. “”I love singing in this choir because it’s a nice break from my work day, and the people are great.””

    One of the choir’s major strengths is its diversity and how the choir brings faculty and staff from all over the campus, Raffa said.

    We have been one of the best-kept secrets on the campus for too long.

    – Justin Raffa,

    The choir’s only weakness, Raffa said, is that the majority of the campus community is not aware it exists.

    “”We have been one of the best-kept secrets on the campus for too long,”” he said.

    Performances are open to the public and free. Although the choir does not yet have an official schedule for this semester, most performances take place on campus.

    The group’s “”major performances”” have been held at the UA Museum of Art and Holsclaw Hall in the Music building, while others have occurred at the UofA Bookstore and on the UA Mall stage during the weekly farmers market, Raffa said.

    To become a member, one must be a faculty member, staff member or a graduate student.

    “”It is nice because there are no auditions,”” Cordy said. “”We are there to have fun, and we welcome anyone who likes to sing.””

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