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Loyola’s official choir brings sense of community to their music

There is no shortage of vocal performance organizations at Loyola. From a capella to chapel choir, no matter what type of music you want to sing, there is a place for you to sing it.  While all of these groups are equally talented, few people may be aware that Loyola has an official choir sponsored by the fine arts department. The Loyola University Singers, formerly known as the Loyola Chorale, is the main choral ensemble that includes only Loyola students.  The Repertory Choir, formerly known as the Madrigal Singers, is a smaller group comprised of Loyola Singers but also includes faculty, staff and alumni. Both are led by Dr. Daniel McDavitt of the Fine Arts Department.

While you may not be familiar with the Loyola Singers choir, mostly likely you are familiar with the faces of its members. Early this semester as way of advertisement, posters featuring various members of the group along with information about the group, were seen all around campus.

“The purpose of the campaign was literally to put a face on the choir. Many students are not aware that the university even has a choral program in the fine arts department, and we wanted them to take notice. We wanted students to know that, regardless of your major, year in school or reasons for wanting to join a choir, there is a place for you to sing here at Loyola,” explained Dr. McDavitt.

The choir has undergone a massive transformation in the last year under McDavitt’s leadership. In fall 2012, there were 12 singers and now there are 38 singers in Loyola Singers, and 16 in Loyola Repertory Choir. McDavitt feels there has been a change in the engagement of the students in the program.

“My first priority is that each singer feels that he or she has a sense of ownership in the success of the choir. This may be a collective effort, but we are more successful if each singer has a sense of individual responsibility. The students probably don’t even realize how much of what we do is meant to instill this sense in each person in the room, but it seems to be working. They are telling their friends, roommates and classmates about the choir, and we continue to grow. The best part about this is that the other vocal groups on campus are also growing. We’re all part of a rising tide that will hopefully continue to increase for years,” noted McDavitt.

The group has expanded their classical repertoire to include a broad range of music.  They sing Medieval and Renaissance music, various folk traditional music from around the world and music form today’s living composers. By performing a broad range of music, the choir has attracted a broad range of students and audience members. The rehearsal times do not conflict with any other musical group on campus so it is not uncommon to see choir members in various other on-campus groups. This multiple group involvement helps to improve performances because it allows the musical passion to be shared across multiple groups and vitalizes all the music programs.

As Loyola’s official choir, the group works to promote the University by performing in the community while bringing audiences to campus. In December, they will be performing at St. Ignatius Church, the original site of Loyola. They will be starting a yearly high school choir festival next year, which will culminate in a joint concert.

The choir members themselves have no shortage of reasons to why people should join the choir at the next available opportunity. Some wanted to continue their involvement in a more traditional choral group while others enjoy the community experience of the group. Others felt they were missing something at Loyola such as Jonas Nissley who said, “I missed being able to sing sacred and classical music. [Loyola Singers] filled a hole in my music experience at Loyola.”

Mitch Washburn, explains, “I am of the opinion that singing in a choir is like being a part of a diverse team. I sing in the traditional choir because we are unique. We have a sound no other group can make and to me, this sound is familiar. I have participated in choir my whole life and this joyful sound is what I seek when I am singing. I found this sound and joy with the Loyola University Singers.”

Nicole Perez added, “A diverse repertoire with universal messages has kept me with the Loyola Singers throughout my college career. It is quite therapeutic knowing that someone from a different time and place can relate to me through music.”

The Loyola Singers and Loyola Repertory Choir will be performing Wednesday, November 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Chapel.

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Loyola’s official choir brings sense of community to their music