College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Choral Aims to Teach Musical Roots

It is time to stop singing in the shower and sing for real.

Donald Trott, director of choral activities, thinks anyone with a voice should be heard.

“You do not have to be a music major or anything like that to participate in the choirs,” he said.

The choral program at Ole Miss is made up of Concert Singers, Women’s Glee, Men’s Glee, Women’s Ensemble and University Chorus, which is the Men’s and Women’s Glee combined.

Do not be expecting Lady GaGa, though, this is not the “Glee” you see on television Tuesday night.

“We definitely avoid show choir,” Trott said. “It is not that I hate modern music, but there is a body of repertoire that we have to have our students experience, and over their four years here, (they have to) walk away having experienced a wide variety that is varied in several ways.

“We want the majors to walk away with that repertoire because they’re going to try to recreate it on their own, but we want everyone to experience (it) because a variety is healthy.”

That repertoire ranges from orchestral works, like Messiah works and Bach/Beethoven, to unaccompanied works (which includes limited instruments, piano-only and a capella) like anthems and motets.

“We don’t have to work hard to expose the students to modern music; it’s all around us,” Trott said. “We have to work to expose them to Bach. My job is to educate what is valuable.”

To truly grasp music, you need to have a sense of its evolution, Trott said.

“To know how music is in 2011, you need to know how it was in the past,” Trott said. “I have a much greater appreciation for contemporary music because I have spent time studying how it evolved.”

The students in the choirs are just as passionate about music as Trott.

“When you come to campus as a freshmen, it’s a really scary thing, as you do not know anyone and the campus feels so big,” Kristin Leaptrott, a freshman music minor, said. “Being in Women’s Glee and Concert Singers has allowed me to meet tons of people. I have gotten some really close friends and honestly, without it, I probably would not have any friends right now.

“Every day I get to sing with some of the most talented people I have ever met, and it is an absolute joy.”

Students across all disciplines are welcome and encouraged to audition. “I have no operatic performance voice, but I love to sing as part of a group,” Andrew Matrick, a junior biochemistry major, said.

“The pieces we sing are unique and challenging,” he said. “I think one of the best things about choir is experiencing our sound as we perform. When a piece comes together, our harmony and intensity are incredible things to be a part of.”

The best part is that all of the choirs are for-credit courses, so students can earn an hour of credit for participating.

Contact the Office of Choral Activities at 662-915-5115 or by e-mail at choirs@olemiss.edu, for more information.

from the DM by Casey Holliday