Duquesne’s choral program crescendos in size

Courtesy of Caron Daley Duquesne's Voices of Spirit choir performs at St. Bernard's Church in Mt. Lebanon Oct. 9.

Courtesy of Caron Daley

Duquesne’s Voices of Spirit choir performs at St. Bernard’s Church in Mt. Lebanon Oct. 9.

Brady Collins | Contributor

Recent additions to Duquesne’s choir program have given the university new voice.

Within the last semester, there has been the addition of a new ensemble, the University Singers. Students are also in the process of re-instating a chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), led by Chapter President Christina Cvetic. The chapter is open to anyone who has an interest in choral conducting, regardless of academic major. Also, the university’s select chamber choir, Voices of Spirit, is slated for a tour during the spring semester.

Caron Daley, Duquesne’s director of choral activities, said singing in a choir is a unique experience.

“It’s a team-oriented, musical activity,” Daley said, which allows a person to “create something that’s bigger than you could possibly create on your own.”

Cvetic encouraged all singers to join the ACDA chapter, even those who are out of practice.

“We’re trying to be as open as possible, because sometimes you lose touch with something after high school that you loved so much and our job is to kind of bring that passion back,” Cvetic said.

The Voices of Spirit will be collaborating with a world-renowned musician this year.

James MacMillan, a Scottish composer and conductor, is scheduled to work with Voices of Spirit on campus in February, and Cvetic is hoping to secure a question and answer session or masterclass afterwards for the chapter. The chapter also aims to help promote any choral ensemble’s upcoming engagements and fundraising for members to attend concerts.

Daley also offers private lessons in choral conducting to seniors and graduate students. She said students come from varying backgrounds, with their primary instruments ranging from voice to organ, and it’s her goal to develop their conducting as a secondary skill.

“Students who study conducting become musical leaders in our program,” she said.

Some students have already taken hold of the initiative. Connor Doran, a senior in music education, has begun an ad hoc choir with student vocalists. Doran will be applying to graduate schools soon for choral conducting.

“At the more foundational level I’m trying to figure out how to be a choral conductor and have a presence in front of people,” he said.

Musicians from all different backgrounds are teaming up in the University Singers, which is open to all majors as well as Duquesne faculty, staff and alumni. Daley, who directs the group, said they have a “solid start” to the ensemble that she hopes “each year will continue to grow.”

Taking part in the choir can also fulfill a creative arts requirement for university students. Spring semester auditions for all choirs will take place on Jan. 10 and 11, and audition forms can be found on the music school’s website.

Susan Hepburn, a student in the choir, said she is amazed that this group, “each [person] with different beliefs, life experiences, voice types and musical tastes,” can create one united and beautiful sound.

The students in Voices of Spirit are preparing for a March tour that will reach out to Pennsylvania high schools, such as those in Johnstown and Philadelphia. The group will also perform at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, one of Philadelphia’s premier choral venues.

Daley said the touring component of the choral program gives students an opportunity to act as ambassadors for Duquesne, to be challenged musically and to bond with one another.

Daley said she enjoys working with the students here.

“Duquesne students are very motivated to succeed musically,” Daley said, and they are each “very eager to succeed” by collaborating with one another in the choral setting.

“We have a family of choirs here,” Daley said.

Duquesne’s family of choirs also includes the Pappert Men’s and Women’s Chorales, which contain both non-music and music majors.

The Voices of Spirit, Pappert Men’s and Women’s Chorales and University Singers will be performing “Radiant is the World Soul” a concert on the Music in a Great Space series on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

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