By Andrea James
PUC boasts many great music ensembles. We enjoy their performances every quarter, but most of us don’t participate in a music group. After all, why should we sacrifice our precious free time? I asked Kayley Wilson, a junior English major and member of both I Cantori and Chorale, for her answer and a few other questions about music at PUC.
“The payoff is great. There have been times where I’ve been thinking, ‘Man, I could be working on a paper right now.’ But there have been so many times when I’ve walked out going, ‘Wow. I am so less stressed about what was bothering me.’ I feel better … Singing is healthy. It causes you to breathe really deeply … Psychologically, physically it’s good for you. Even though there have been times when I’m like, ‘I could be doing something else,’ I feel it benefits me in so many ways. It’s not something I’m willing to give up, you know? It does limit your time sometimes. If you’re just in Chorale, a couple weekends a year you’re singing. It’s really not that much. I think it’s worth it.”
Why do you have such a high opinion of singing?
“There’s something so powerful about this big group of people all thinking about the same thing and focusing on the same thing when we live in this world where there’s so much division. It’s really a beautiful thing to be able to come together and do that.
Music relaxes me. It allows me to step outside of the daily struggles and focus on something I love. I love that a lot of it’s worship music and I love doing that. It’s an escape; it’s worship. I just think it’s really valuable … I also feel like whatever gift you’ve been given, doing it well is an act of worship … When I was in high school, I came from a Waldorf school and it wasn’t Christian, and now I go to this school where my professor is saying, ‘We’re singing the Bible; we’re singing Scripture.’ Literally, singing Scripture! He said, ‘When I’m conducting, I’m praying. My heart is in it; my soul is in it. I want you to think about singing in a choir as your personal worship time. You’re not performing for other people; you’re giving back to God.’ That really, really stuck with me.”
Why do you think people are hesitant to join music groups?
“Well, for one I think a lot of people are scared of joining music groups because they’re scared they don’t have the ability. The thing is, no one expects you to come in knowing everything. That’s why there’s an instructor.
If you like music, what kind of music are you interested in? Don’t think that ‘Oh, well, this was written in 1500s–I’m not going to like that.’ You don’t know unless you’ve tried singing it, unless you’ve sat down and listened to it. It doesn’t have to be choir–that’s my background, but I have friends who are in Symphonic Wind Ensemble and they just have a blast. They’re always doing some really interesting pieces. I think it really builds community–really, really builds community. It’s typical that you’re going to know more people within your department because you have events to go to and classes with all those people, but when you’re in a music ensemble, you also get to meet people from all over who maybe you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise and you’re all coming together for one common goal. I just think that’s so cool.
One thing I think is really neat about being in an ensemble is that if you don’t feel confident, you’ve got a lot of people behind you. There’s something really beautiful about that unity; that we may not all sound amazing by ourselves, but we’re stronger and more powerful together.”
So, consider joining one of the music groups on campus and be part of a community, worshipping and singing together. Here’s a list of some of the larger ensembles at PUC:
- Big Band–Rehearses and performs big band jazz. The group focuses on the development of reading and improvisation skills.
- Chorale–Performs both sacred and secular music, in diverse styles and from many periods. It’s a large mixed chorus open to all students, faculty, and staff. The group normally performs one piece with the orchestra each year. There are auditions each quarter; however, membership for the whole school year is preferred.
- Gospel Choir–Extensively surveys religious music from African-American worship experiences.
- Handbell Choir–Performs every quarter, both on and off campus. There are two levels of handbell choir: The beginning choir is open to any student who can read music; the advanced handbell choir is for ringing level three music and above.
- I Cantori–Performs both sacred and secular music. It’s a mixed-voice chamber ensemble for voice majors and other serious vocal students. It’s also a major touring ensemble and has a full performance schedule, including off campus tours. The director holds auditions at the beginning of fall quarter and year-long membership is required. Students in I Cantori are also required to register for Chorale.
- Introductory String Ensemble–Performs music at the level of the group. The ensemble focuses on developing technique, musicianship, and ensemble skills.
- Orchestra–Performs masterworks in concerts every quarter and at other events, both on and off campus. It’s for advanced string, wind, and brass players. The group often collaborates with soloists and other ensembles.
- Praise Teams/Bands–There are opportunities to perform at both vespers and the PUC Church service Sabbath morning. Contact the religious vice president in the Student Association or the church office to learn more. You can also read our post “(P)Raise the Roof” for some thoughts on being part of a praise band at PUC.
- Symphonic Wind Ensemble–Performs a diverse selection of music in a wide variety of settings and is for advanced instrumentalists. Tours and workshops occur on alternate years.