The A Cappella Choir recently embarked on a tour which took them to the Mid-Atlantic District where they performed in multiple church services throughout the state of Maryland. Their harmonies fill the hearts and minds of various churchgoers in each performance with messages of God’s joy and peace.
According to Hannah Shepherd, the Choral Assistant and fourth-year choir soprano, there are about 25 choir members. She explains that the members rehearse for one hour three times a week. In recent years, the choir has traveled all along the East Coast from Maine to Virginia. Their next tour will be during the Spring semester.
Gabrielle LaPierre, an alto-1, reflected on her two semesters that she has spent with the choir thus far. “A few of my favorite things in choir [are] the easy friendships that you make with people you…share a love of music with. There is a [sense of] pride that you share with [these] people when you are involved in something as uncommon as A Cappella. Not to mention the feeling you get when, as a whole, the group is prepared and sounds amazing. [It’s like] being part of something bigger than yourself.”
LaPierre has gone on three choir tours. She says that so far, her favorite one has been their most recent Mid-Atlantic tour. “The reason [for that] is how much the churches that we visited were so kind and grateful for our visit…they had told us that they enjoyed the music, and using it to glorify God is the reason we sing in the first place.”
Contrary to what many students might expect after last year’s announcement regarding ENC’s plans to cut the Music Department, A Capella choir still continues. Shepherd explained the effects of this drastic change in their program,“I think that with any major change, there is going to be an impact. The choir is no different. I know of several students that were going to attend ENC for a music degree this year but, because of the major cuts, chose to go to another school. Others still who intended to be music majors and had to switch [majors] are now so busy finding another major that they could not join choir.”
According the Music Department Chair Kevin Smith, the Chamber Singers choir was cut this year due to low numbers of student interest.
Choir season may be in full-swing, but according to LaPierre, the overall morale is not the same as it once was. “There is a noticeable loss of spark…I think there is a general feeling of sadness among the members.”
The future of the A Capella Choir at ENC is uncertain, as Shepherd, LaPierre, and the other choir members have expressed. LaPierre made a statement regarding what is arguably the biggest blow for the department, as well as for herself. “A direct loss from the cut is Dr. Shetler who has led the A Cappella Choir for over 30 years. When he leaves, the real A Cappella Choir won’t exist…. When I joined the choir last year…I was told that once I officially joined, I would be a member for life [Alumni of the choir often return to sing with the current choir for various events]. Now, with the cuts, I’m not sure that is true. I dreamed of singing the Alma Mater and My Times [songs that are sung at the closing of every performance since the establishment of the choir in 1938] at my graduation, but now I doubt that will happen.”
Despite all of the changes and setbacks combined with the “general feeling of sadness” the A Capella Choir has been dealing with this academic year, LaPierre noted, “we are doing our best to be as committed to following the purpose of the choir, which is to glorify God with His gift to us: music.”