Choirs perform music from Ireland and beyond


Elizabeth Mahan

The University Choir and Midwestern Singers perfrorm “Britten and Beyond” in Akin Auditorium on Feb. 24. Photo by Elizabeth Mahan.

Voices echoed in harmony throughout the Akin Auditorium on Feb. 24. Members of the University Choir and Midwestern Singers arrived an hour early to practice. At 4 p.m. they began their show “Britten and Beyond” for an audience of about 30.

Lindsay Rittenhouse, vocal performance senior choir president and soprano in the choir, was nominated for president rather than running for it.

“I like leading. I like to help. I’m just really trying to get us involved with the university because a lot of people don’t even know we exist or don’t care if they do know. Somebody has got to do something to get people to notice us,” Rittenhouse said.

What made you want to join the choir?

Rittenhouse said, “It’s a very good learning opportunity for ensembles. Midwestern Singers, which I used to be in but I’m not in it right now,  is a smaller group, so you have to learn more independence with the other parts. There was one semester that I was the only soprano in the group. You have to learn how to hold your own against the other parts, and really hear the chords and learn how to work with them.”

Steven Singleton, vocal performance junior and bass in the choir said he joined the choir because he was encouraged by his professors and others.

“After my audition, I really really felt welcomed here, and they loved my voice, so they gave me all of the comfort they could. I’m enjoying it so far,” Singleton said.

Macy Mullins, vocal performance freshman and alto in the choir, said she joined the choir because of her love for singing.

“I have grown up in a musical environment, and I did choir in middle school. I’ve just always loved to sing,” Mullins said.

Preston Busby, criminal justice senior and tenor in the choir, is minoring in music, but was excited to find out that students don’t have to major in music to be in the choir.

“I’ve been in choir since middle school, and I’ve been singing since I was a child. When I came to college, I found out that you didn’t have to be a music major to be in the choir, so I decided to join,” Busby said.

What is your favorite part about being in the choir?

“There’s that moment when you hit some of the chords and they just blend perfectly. It’s gorgeous. I’m also the section leader, and I really like being able to help other people grow in the music and find their own skills to overcome the difficulties in rhythms and pitches that don’t quite make sense,” Rittenhouse said.

Singleton said he enjoys spending time with his fellow choir members.

“My favorite part about being in the choir is seeing how much of a family we have all become. We have fun with what we do, when it comes to singing music,” Singleton said.

Mullins also said hanging out with her friends is one of her favorite parts.

“My favorite part is all of the cool songs that we get to sing, and just the process of learning songs with other people is really interesting and exciting for me. I also love having all of this good energy around me, and the good friends that I’ve met,” Mullins said.

Busby said the combination of the different choir sections harmonizing is one of his favorite parts.

“My favorite part is hearing all of the different voices and how two distinctly different voices are able to blend and create a beautiful sound.”

Brianna Boone, vocal performance freshman and soprano in the choir, said she enjoys the diversity in the music.

“Getting all types of new music. [about variation in the songs in the concert tonight] A lot of them are connected, but they are all different styles,” Boone said.

What is your favorite song performed in the show?

“O Whistle, just because it’s upbeat and happy and kind of bouncy. It’s one of those things that just puts you in a good mood,” Rittenhouse said.

Singleton said he also has fun with his favorite song.

“Feller From Fortune because there is a certain part in the bass section that some of us try not to laugh at,” Singleton said.

Busby said he enjoys singing the tenor section of his favorite song.

“Welsh Lullaby. It’s a really sweet, pretty, soft song,” Busby said.

Mullins said she appreciates the story behind her favorite song.

“Rejoice in the Lamb. It’s just very interesting and complex, and it was written by a man who was in an insane asylum, so he had lots of complex things going through his brain, and I think it’s really cool that we get to sing for his thought,” Mullins said.

Boone shares the same favorite song as Mullins.

“Rejoice in the Lamb because I think that Britten’s [the composer’s] writing is very interesting,” Boone said.

Have you made a lot of friends through being in the choir?

“I’ve met my best friends through choir, and it’s a really nice way to meet all of the freshman that I wouldn’t otherwise have any classes with,” Rittenhouse said.

Mullins has also made connections through choir.

“I’ve made lots of great friends. I love it so much. I love them, and we’ve gotten really close. Especially being a freshman here, it’s good to come into an environment where you automatically have a huge group of friends,” Mullins said.

Boone said a lot of the people in her social circle are in the choir.

“I would say most of my friends are in the choir. Most if not all,” Boone said.

Why is it important to study music?

“It connects you with cultures of the past and today. Also the emotion that you get to share with people. That’s why music therapy is a thing. Kids with special needs don’t connect with normal things, but they connect with music. There’s studies that show that a lot of medical students started off as music majors because it helps with your cognitive ability. It’s used to teach math problems so that you can remember the formulas. It surrounds us everywhere, but people don’t realize how much they use it,” Rittenhouse said.

Singleton said studying music is crucial for any performer.

“If you want to be any type of vocalist, it is very important to practice every single day. Study a theory every single day, every minute, every second because if you want to be a professional, they’re expecting you to know at least your basics. It’s very important to stay on your A game and be professional,” Singleton said.

Mullins said it’s important to understand the sounds that surround us every day.

“Music is in our lives 24/7. It’s important to get to know the complexity of what creates the sounds that we hear every single day.”

Who is your musical inspiration?

“Luther Vandross and Jonathan Mcreynolds. I like the smoothness of their voice, and the simplicity used to get across the honest writing Jonathan Mcreynolds has,” Busby said.

Singleton found celebrity inspirations in high school.

“My first inspiration is Josh Groban, and my second inspiration is a somewhat famous bass, Maurice Robinson. There’s also my voice teacher, Donald Maxwell,” Singleton said.

Boone also said she has great admiration for her voice teacher.

“My voice teacher [ Donald Maxwell]. That’s why I decided that it would be best for me to come here,” Boone said.

Rittenhouse said that a love for music runs in her family.

“I don’t think I really have one. My whole family is kind of musical. My grandma was a piano teacher all of her life. My mom plays piano and played saxophone in high school. All of my siblings sing or play an instrument. It’s the only thing that I’ve ever loved. It just makes you feel fulfilled,” Rittenhouse said.

Mullin’s inspiration is in a beloved family member.

“My grandmother. She passed away when I was four, but she was a concert pianist, and I inherited her piano. She is my inspiration in all of my music,” Mullins said.


The Midwestern singers, a group of nine, sang six songs before joining the University Choir, a group of 27, for five songs.