By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–For the first time in its history, the IU Southeast Concert Choir has been invited to perform at a state conference.
In January, the choir will sing at the Indiana Music Education Association (IMEA) conference, to be held in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
To win the invitation, the choir was selected through a peer-reviewed panel and application process.
“The invitation signifies that the choral program is moving in the right direction, with its continued growth and new opportunities to perform outside of campus,” said Jeramy Nichols, assistant professor of music education and director of the Concert Choir. “It also demonstrates the level of performance that the Concert Choir has achieved.”
That level is boosted both in quantity and quality.
The Concert Choir has doubled in size since Nichols arrived in 2016, and now boasts 35 members from across campus–including music majors and non-majors from business and nursing. There are even members from other institutions.
Nichols also notes an improvement in the singers’ ability to sight-read.
“This has helped in learning new music, and also allows the group to sing more difficult music that is classified at the ‘collegiate’ level,” Nichols said.
The IMEA is a professional membership organization serving music teachers of all primary, secondary and tertiary levels. IMEA’s purpose is to support and advance music education in the state of Indiana by representing the united interests of music educators and students and by providing professional leadership and service in music education to enhance arts education in schools.
“This opportunity helps the Concert Choir to better themselves in an off-campus public performance, and to continue to build camaraderie among the group,” Nichols said.
Jareth Gaddis, a junior from New Albany, Indiana majoring in vocal performance, has been singing in choirs since middle school. Besides singing in the Concert Choir, he is also a tenor and bass section leader of the choir at Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville. He is pleased that Nichols pushes the ensemble to tackle more demanding repertoire.
“High expectations open the doors to doing bigger and more difficult works, which are generally more satisfying musically,” Gaddis said.
They are also satsifying in terms of building a more complete skill set.
“The skills I have gained in choir, such as sight singing, blending with an ensemble and concentration, have been instrumental in my career as a vocalist,” Gaddis said. “They have given me the chops to perform my job as section leader up to professional expectations.”
For Gabriel Stockwell, a senior from Corydon, Indiana majoring in General Studies, the choir began as a music requirement, but has remained as a constant through a change of major. He credits it with improving him mentally and physically.
“At first it helped me open up socially and now it pushes me to be a better singer in every aspect,” Stockwell said.
While learning new music is a challenge, it’s one that Stockwell finds rewarding.
“Getting to learn new songs and experiencing the joys of hearing how each section comes together in the end, is always the best part,” Stockwell said. “There’s nothing better than having the whole choir nail a song and seeing Dr. Nichols smile afterward and encourage us, as he always does, with positive words and his famous ‘Ah yes, do you hear that? The ring doesn’t lie.'”