The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Singers share music across the country

The Grinnell Singers rehearse before their concert in Chicago over spring break. Photo contributed
The Grinnell Singers rehearse before their concert in Chicago over spring break. Photo contributed
The Grinnell Singers rehearse before their concert in Chicago over spring break. Photo contributed

Over spring break, several Grinnellians took their talents on tour and brought music to cities throughout the United States. Students in Grinnell Singers and Young, Gifted and Black performed their choral repertoires for friends, family and alumni to show off their hard work and musicianship.

The 40 members of Singers embarked on a six city tour from March 14 to 20, making stops in Minneapolis, Madison, Chicago, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Creve Coeur, Missouri.  YGB’s 26 performers took on four cities from March 14 to 18 in Omaha, Cheyenne, Fort Collins and Greeley, Colorado.

“Touring affords the group a chance to focus completely on their music for a week. It’s also a particular avenue for the College to share what we’re doing with a wider audience,” said John Rommereim,  the director of Grinnell Singers and Professor of Music.

Music Technical Assistant Paul Nelson and Peter Aldrich ’15 were instrumental in the logistical planning of the Singers’ tours while Michael Sims, the director of student activities, handled this aspect of preparation for YGB. Alumni outreach also played a huge role in deciding performance venues for both groups. In two locations, the Singers were housed completely by alumni hosts, and Grinnell alumni were present at several of YGB’s tour stops.

“We performed in two areas that have a couple of alumni. One recent alum was actually the pastor of a church where we performed. It was funny how he still knew some of the administration here and was telling us about how [the College] was during his time,” said Deborah Msekela ’17, a member of YGB.

YGB’s performance material included spiritual and gospel selections such as “Bless the Lord” by Tye Tribbett and Stephen F. Key’s “Ride on King Jesus.” The group did not always have specific plans for each concert, allowing for creative improvisation in the moment of performance.

The Singers’ repertoire included the 40-part “Spem in Alium,” which translates to “Hope in Any Other,” by Thomas Tallis, in which every member has a solo part. The piece was a huge selling point for music enthusiasts in many cities, but it required extra rehearsal time for the Singers.

“John [Rommereim] has put in so much work. We were divided into eight different choirs, and John would meet with each choir by themselves. Then we all work with him individually. It’s a lot of time,” said Joyce Bartlett ’15, a member of Grinnell Singers.

Rommereim was impressed with his group’s rendition of the ever-evolving piece.

“I’m very proud of how they did. It’s exciting. It can also be enormously frustrating. We have the potential of a very fine performance, not just making it through. It’s truly a unique piece, a cathedral of sound,” he said.

The piece was well received by all audiences, and fans of the Singers were not shy about showing their appreciation for the music.

“The most exciting concert was probably Tulsa because the audience gave a standing ovation in the middle of the concert [after ‘Spem in Alium’], acknowledging something unusual and special,” Rommereim said.

For both groups, the tour was a rewarding experience to showcase their hard work over the semester.

“I loved every single place we went to because of the people. They were really welcoming, kind and hospitable. Having [audience members] hug you and thank you for your performance was so nice,” Msekela said.

The Grinnell Singers will finish off their semester with three more concerts, including Mozart’s Requiem. Young, Gifted and Black will perform their spring concert later in April followed by a final performance in Herrick Chapel.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *