Union University’s choirs will have their fall concert Oct. 29 at First Baptist Church in Jackson at 7:30 pm. All choirs will be performing a variety of music including contemporary, gospel and sacred. Singers will also perform a few songs with a local high school choir.
Christopher Mathews, music department chair and director of choral activities, has been working with Union’s music department for eight years. He graduated from Union, earning his Master of Music from Southwest Missouri State University and his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Kentucky.
Mathews said choosing material for the choirs to perform is one of the most difficult parts of what he does. He tries to select works based on personal knowledge, experience and composers, maintaining a variety of music, both slow and fast, difficult, educational and fitting for the current choir. This requires a lot of thought and effort, he said.
Union has four different choirs. Cantilena, the women’s choir and the men’s choir are for freshmen and are open to anyone. Singers and Proclamation are auditioned choirs, holding their auditions in the spring.
Singers tours every year in the spring. Every third year they tour internationally. In 2017, Singers will go to Germany for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Dan Musselman, professor of music, is composing a piece specifically for this tour. In the past, the choir has performed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas.
Voices of Proclamation is a specialized group or the “special forces choir,” according to Mathews. They perform for local high schools and churches, doing a lot of promotion and recruiting for the choir department. Proclamation sings a variety of songs rather than academic and classical pieces.
Ansley Katz, junior music education major and a member of University Singers and Voices of Proclamation, knew that she wanted to be in choir from the start. Music has always been a part of her life and family, and she watched her older siblings sing and enjoy choir.
“Being involved in a choir teaches you how to get along with different personalities and meet people you would not otherwise meet,” Katz said. “It is a great way to unify different portions of campus, and we are always being challenged to become better.”
Mathews hopes students in the program will use their musical gifts to be good citizens and have a positive effect on the world. To students who are intimidated to audition, Mathews says, “Just do it.” He said he hopes to see students from all skill levels show an interest and be involved with the choirs.