Two high school students perform solos in the Musical Arts Day concert on Oct. 26. Photo by Laura VonKampen.
By Paige Uzzell
Students from all over the country gathered on Oct. 26 to celebrate their musical talents in a select choir and band concert as part of Concordia’s annual Musical Arts Day.
The high school students auditioned and were accepted into the national honor choir and band, directed by Chair of the Music Department and Director of Choral Activities Dr. Kurt Von Kampen and Assistant Professor of Music Andrew Schultz.
Concordia’s Musical Arts Day started back in 1999 with a couple of gap years when funding was tight. This year, Concordia now had approximately 300 students audition to be a part of one of the two musical groups. The students spent a lot of time preparing, not only before their auditions but even after they made it into their ensembles.
“The choir generally has four or five pieces that are sent out to the singers three weeks in advance of the event. The band generally has three or four pieces. Students receive the music and are asked as much as possible to come to the event with the notes and rhythms learned,” Von Kampen said. “This way, we can spend the majority of our day making the music come alive.”
The students’ ability to make the music come alive throughout their practices at home and at Concordia made it an enjoyable experience for the musicians.
“My favorite part of the day was probably the first run-through we did of “The Mill,” which was my favorite song. Hearing so many people sing it together, so well, on the very first run through was super exciting,” Living Word Lutheran High School senior Anna Krafft said.
Students from different musical groups got to experience what it is like to perform in a very select ensemble, usually unlike their own. Concordia also takes this opportunity to showcase their own ensembles.
“One of the important parts of the day is when the university ensembles perform for the high school students. We really want the young musicians to experience what college-level music is like and especially what it’s like at Concordia, so they know what they will be a part of if they become a student here,” Von Kampen said.
The young musicians were able to obtain new musical connections from the college ensembles and from the rehearsals directed by Von Kampen and Schultz.
“Dr. Von Kampen mentioned that high notes should be released and not reached,” Krafft said. “As someone who has been an alto for a while and only having been a soprano for a little while, I felt this. The notes sound so much more beautiful when they are calmly released instead of reached for with tension.”
Along with experiencing the music that Concordia has to offer and learning all they could from the practices, some students were able to stay the night before on-campus and experience some of the activities at Concordia.
“I saw many of the buildings the students study and live in, I ate amongst them, and went to Improv Club with many of them,” Krafft said. “I loved going to the Improv Club (and) having breakfast with my hostess and her friends.”
There was a large amount of work putting an event like this together. The two directors listened to over 300 auditions and picked approximately 150 choral members and 75 band members. They were not the only ones putting in the effort to make Musical Arts Day.
Music Department Administrative Assistant Lana Eiting took care of ordering the students’ shirts, sending out all mail, handling all the video auditions, and answering all of the questions from parents and students about Musical Arts Day.
The day ended with a concert performed by the honor choral and band ensembles Friday evening.
“I learned that when so many excellent musicians come together, and all have such a high level of passion for the music, the sound quality produced is amazing,” Krafft said. “There can be choirs with excellent musicians, but if passion isn’t had by every single member, the level of music goes down.”