The Blog @
Southern Virginia University

Posts with the tag: Music

  1. Photos: Spring Choir Concert

    April 16, 2016

    I’ve been in a choir for as long as I can remember. Partly because I love singing and partly to please my mother, I always joined my school’s choral group and sang my heart out. However, I never particularly enjoyed it. Either the people would annoy me as they tried to outshine each other or I would get tired of being the only one who had the songs memorized.

    Then, I went to college. And, suddenly, I didn’t have to please anyone except myself. For my first year and a half at Southern Virginia University, I stayed away from choir. Until this past semester. I don’t know what changed, but something did. I missed it. I missed that rush of adrenaline that I always got before climbing the risers and taking my place on the stand. I missed the wobbling of voices as we struggled to overcome our nerves and find our notes. I missed all of it.

    And that, my friends, is how I found myself signing up for Concert Chorale. I auditioned, got in, and there I was, somehow back in choir. It scared me, to be honest. I still remember that first day of wondering if I was even in the right place for class and struggling to find someone I knew that was singing the same part as me, so I could sit by them for the rest of the semester. Luckily for me, I located my friend Karlie pretty quickly and promptly attached myself to her hip.

    It was simple after that. We got our seats and our music and it was beautiful. It wasn’t perfect, not for awhile, but it was beautiful. You could feel the passion and heart in between awkwardly off-tune singing and high notes that we didn’t quite hit. It was a feeling that I won’t forget anytime soon.

    We had our concert last month for Spring Semester and it was amazing. From the standard black formal dress code to the crowded auditorium, it was perfect. It made every tiring rehearsal and all those nights where my throat hurt from practicing so worth it. We stayed in Hilltop while Bella Voce sang and when they were nearing their final songs, we lined up at the stairs and prepared to go on. We walked to the risers and took our places and waited silently until Dr. Carter nodded and raised her arms. When we started singing, it was dead quiet except for us. I think that’s what made our first song, the last two pieces of “Carmina Burana,” sound so powerful. It was almost haunting in a way. We went through the rest of our songs, including my personal favorite “Wade in the Water,” and it was beautiful. It was a really great experience and I am so thankful I gave choir another chance.

    Thank you, Dr. Carter, for being the Albus Dumbledore of music. Thank you for letting me sing my heart out again and actually enjoy it. Thank you for showing me that choir can be passionate, that it can mean something. Thank you for being so understanding. Thank you for showing me that music can be felt in Russian just as strongly as it can be felt in English. But most of all, thank you for making me work hard. The outcome was definitely worth it.

    (Post by Molly Hall. Photos by Sarah Foster ’19.)


  2. ‘Specialization is for Insects’: The Purpose of Education

    April 6, 2016

    Music-bRobert A. Heinlein, an influential and popular science fiction writer, once wrote, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” I’m going to take some creative license and add one thing to this list: A human being should be able to identify a German augmented sixth chord in a musical score.

    Whitehead-class-bFortunately for me, an English major, I took Professor Launa Whitehead’s notoriously difficult Music History course this semester, and can now cross this off. In fact, Professor Whitehead’s course has taught me to do many things that I can now add to — and cross off of — my version of Heinlein’s list. This course, though the most challenging one of my entire college career, has been invaluable in stretching my capabilities as a student and as a human being. It has also prompted some serious reflection on my part on the purpose of education and how that education influences life.

    The world is an easy place to become one-sided, static and stagnant. From an impossibly young age, most of us are expected to choose what we want to do or to be when we reach adulthood; and then we are forced to spend our education in pursuit of that choice — and in the meantime we paint ourselves into corners in the hopes that one day those corners will turn into tidy professions with decent salaries and a nice level of stability.

    But here at Southern Virginia University, we have a different method. We use education to expand our opportunities, not diminish them. Our curriculum encourages business students to study astronomy. It motivates philosophy majors to learn computer programming. It gives English majors the opportunity to know how to analyze some of music’s greatest compositions. Instead of painting ourselves into corners, we’re knocking down walls.

    One day when we all graduate, we will, unavoidably, enter some kind of profession. But thanks to Southern Virginia, we will do so with the kind of intellectual freedom that changes the world, rather than allowing it to continue on in the same way as before. We will know how to think creatively, how to think energetically, how to think differently.

    How to think less like an insect and more like a human being.

    (Post by Braxton Boyer ’16. Photos by Russ Dixon.)

  3. Come to the Garden

    February 20, 2016

    This week marks the closing weekend of the university’s production of “The Secret Garden,” and the start of some very mixed emotions on my part. I’m thrilled to know that audiences will be exposed to the inspiring, magical story of this play and the many characters within it. I’m excited to see what it is that makes people laugh tonight and what it is that makes them cry tomorrow. And I’m filled with a bittersweet, indescribable sensation — a sort of premature nostalgia  at the thought that the wonderful experience of being involved in this show is coming to an end.

    When I came to Southern Virginia two and a half years ago, I didn’t know a soul. Not one. A week passed, and my social status (or essential lack thereof) didn’t seem to change. But then Professor Stoddard, who was at the time my theatre history professor, walked up to me and asked me to be his assistant as he directed “The Servant of Two Masters.” Within a month, I was assistant director for another show, “Hello Dolly,” and ready to declare theatre in addition to my English major.

    Since high school, directing was always the element of theatre that held the most appeal to me, and I dreamed of doing a directing senior project at the end of my tenure at Southern Virginia. I fought my way awkwardly, nervously, yet somewhat successfully through two acting classes in order to take directing last semester, and then Professor Stoddard made me an unimaginable invitation: he asked me to associate direct this spring’s musical, “The Secret Garden.”

    I was raised on this musical, and it was difficult for me to believe that many people had never heard the music, or perhaps even of the play, before Professor Stoddard added it to this year’s season. My mom and I used to belt “Lily’s Eyes” in the car. When he offered me the position, I don’t think Professor Stoddard realized that he wasn’t just providing me with fodder for a senior project — he was giving me the most perfect culminating experience, the best possible cherry on top, of my career as a theatre major at Southern Virginia.

    This entire production is such a testament to the wonders brought about by “the genius of small.” Theatre majors and non-theatre majors alike have come together to sing, learn, act, live, and laugh. Though only a student, I have been fortunate enough to work with Professor Stoddard as a collaborator, to learn from him while we worked together to block scenes, coach actors, and realize our vision for the show. At what other university could I possibly have had this opportunity?

    Ultimately, in five short weeks of rehearsal and many hours of work, the cast and crew of this production have put together what I think is the best show I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Sure, I may be a bit biased, but just as being so closely involved in this show has made me attached to it, it has (necessarily) made me especially critical of it, too. So, it is with both tenderness and the “eye” of a director that I say that this show is a gem.

    “The Secret Garden” tells a story of loss, fear, mistakes, faith, hope, family, love, and forgiveness. It captures, in my opinion, some of the most vibrant and integral emotions of the human experience  the messiness and the beauty of it alike. Furthermore, it tells this story through incredible music and characters that you’ll either love to love or love to hate. This particular production also adds some intricate physical elements through the set and costumes that together provide the audience with a performance that is rich musically, visually and emotionally all at once.

    So, as the lyric says, “come to [the] garden.” I can attest to the fact that the efforts of the many talented and diligent people I’ve been able to work with have produced a show that has the ability to both entertain and enrich. One audience member told me, following the opening night performance, that the show was a “sacred experience,” and I really can’t think of a better commendation.

    The final performances are tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $7 for children, senior citizens, and Southern Virginia students, faculty and staff. They are selling quickly and ought to be purchased in advance, if possible, through Student Financial Services or at 540-261-8464.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Eva Sorensen Smith ’17.)

  4. SVU Idol 2016

    February 18, 2016

    Given a campus teeming with musical talent and impromptu bands, it’s no surprise that SVU Idol has become a Southern Virginia tradition.

    About 20 students auditioned, 10 of whom competed at Friday night’s event. Each was introduced to the packed audience by a short video clip, hyping the audience with a few bars of their audition piece, superimposed over what motivated their audition (“My mom thinks I’m talented”), and whether they think they’ll win. For some, it was their debut performance. Patrick Hutchinson’s voice and blond ‘do made the crowd feel as if Justin Bieber himself had graced us with both his presence and his vocal chords, while Alexandra Watson’s petite frame had the audience totally unprepared for the deep, resonating notes of Etta James’ “At Last.” Alyssa Isom challenged The Jackson 5 and inspired audience participation with her own rendition of the classic “Want You Back,” and Sarah Boyer transfixed us with smooth crooning of Leon Bridge’s “The River.”

    Our judges, Professor Rachel Wilcox, Student Life Coordinator and Spirit Squad Head Coach April Harris, and Executive Director of Campus Operations Art Furler, had only good things to say about each contestant.

    A student band, Intimate Ricochet, entertained students with a combination of original and popular songs while the judges deliberated. Popular demand brought Joel Bergman to the stage, who gave an impromptu performance that added a good measure of otherwise absent country twang to the evening (and to think we, situated in the Southern states, almost went without!).

    Patrick Hutchinson, Alexandra Watson, Wyatt Karnes, Taegan Hutchinson, and Julia Jones advanced to the next round on Saturday night, where Watson, Hutchinson and Jones then made it through the next round of eliminations.

    Last year’s idols, the “Sparkly Girls” (alias Clairanne Moncur and Abby Akins) took the stage to perform while students sent in their votes. Taegan Hutchinson was announced the 2016 SVU Idol, with Alexandra Watson as runner-up.

    “Never in a million years did I ever expect [this],” Taegan said. “I exceeded my own expectations. … There is serious talent and amazing voices at this school. … More than winning, it was nice because I’d done something very uncomfortable for me — and I succeeded.”

    Performing at SVU Idol was only Taegan’s second public solo, the first occurring on her LDS mission, when her duet partner and mission companion moved to another city only days before their planned musical number. The students in attendance were definitely grateful that Taegan was willing to step out of her comfort zone. After all, the results were music to our ears!

    (Post by Lauren Hafen ’16. Photos by Sarah Bench ’17 and Sarah Foster ’19.)

  5. A Most Wonderful Christmas Concert

    December 15, 2015

    Christmas is simply the best. As cliche as it is, I can’t help but agree that this is certainly the most wonderful time of the year. Of course, there’s the excitement of Christmas treats and the prevalence of Christmas music (everywhere) and the feel-good movies. And I’m all about having an excuse to bring heavenly-smelling pine trees inside for once. Oftentimes, however, despite the ideas of hope and love and charity that permeate all elements of Christmas, it’s easy to forget why it is that this season is so important, and the right Christmas song and mood and spirit are the friendly reminders needed to bring Christmas back to Christ.

    It’s for this reason that I enjoyed this year’s Christmas concert. Southern Virginia’s two choirs, Concert Chorale and Bella Voce, united their talents with those of the orchestra and a flute quartet to perform a varied and diverse but generally wonderful program of Christmas music. I was especially fond of the spiritual “Mary Had a Baby,” but that might have been because my roommate was a soloist.

    I’m so often astounded by the level of talent at this university, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity not only to be a happy recipient of the fruits of that talent as I attend concerts and shows, but to have had this particular performance serve as one of those refreshing reminders of what truly makes this season the most wonderful.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)