On Feb. 20, I walked into my dormitory room around 7:30 p.m. to prepare for a night of festivities with the West Chester Choral program. I was anxious, practically shaking to the point where I had to ask my roommate for help with my bowtie. At 7:45 p.m, I was ready to perform. After stepping outside of Killinger Hall, I was greeted by a brisk wind and typical mid-winter temperatures. This made my trek to the stage of the Madeline Wing Adler Theatre within the Swope Building feel more exigent. I was apprehensive of my pending performance in addition to succumbing to the cold outside.
By 7:55 p.m., I had reached my destination, and I was swimming in a sea of other West Chester music students. The floor had disappeared, and was covered with black dresses and tuxedos. After a few minutes of searching, I had found several other members from Men’s Chorus, the group I would be performing with that night.
At 8:10 p.m. the concert was about to start. Dr. Ryan Kelly’s Women’s Chorus was on first. The seventy-plus members of my ensemble were lined up behind the stage, able to hear the excitement of the audience and the reach of Dr. Kelly’s sopranos as their set ended.
I looked down and to my left, the book of Matthew Harris’s “Love Songs” was clutched in my hand. Before I realized it, Men’s Chorus was walking onto the stage. Dr. David P. Devenney, the group’s director, had introduced Harris’s piece, and the first movement had begun. Gradually, I was able to shake my nerves off and ease into my singing. Dynamics shifted from near-hush lows to soaring fortissimos. Looking back at my time onstage, the four movements had passed in what seemed to be seconds. Feeling the relief of another performance done, I took a seat in the audience to watch the next two groups, Cantari Donne and Mastersingers, take the stage.
That night, as I watched the expressions on the faces of the men in Mastersingers and heard the beautiful melodies come out of their mouths, I reached a new resolve. This August, when choral auditions are scheduled, I want to move up from Men’s Chorus to Mastersingers. I may not be a music major, but the longer I spend in Swope singing for West Chester, the more I fall in love with it. Hopefully, if I play my cards right and practice accordingly, that dream will someday become a reality.
Jeffrey Holmes is a first-year student majoring in Secondary Education for English. He can be reached at JH791223@wcupa.edu.