By Lillian Linscott
The Grand Rapids Community College Music Department hosts the Michigan Community College Choral Festival at 3 p.m. on Nov. 7 at St. Cecilia Music Center, located at 24 Ransom St. NE.
Admission is free and the general public is welcome to the all-day rehearsal beginning at 9 a.m.
The Choral Festival is about bringing community college choirs together. There will be five other choirs attending the event, including: Mott Community College, Macomb Community College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Northwestern Michigan College and Lansing Community College.
“Some of the other schools come in with music being sort of a smaller part of their academic institution than it is with ours, and I think it’s an encouragement for them,” Stephen Barton, director of choral music at GRCC said. “This is an event they can look forward to and their students can come and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.”
According to Barton, GRCC has been a part of this event for 15-20 years. Barton said that most students don’t think of community colleges when they decide to major in music.
“An opportunity like this (the concert) reflects the truth of the quality of the work that’s going on in music in the community colleges,” Barton said. “Which is an alternative that many of our students have taken, because the quality is good and the cost is much less.”
The individual colleges practice each song separately in preparation for the event. Some of these songs will be sung together by all the colleges, and this will be the first time they perform together. The idea is that each group has prepared and knows each piece.
“When we all come together we get a sense of how good we are,” Barton said. “Which I think in the day to day stuff that goes on in school it’s very easy to forget that, and I think that it’s an opportunity for us to be grateful for what we are able to do as a group and as individuals as well and I think we’re blessed at GRCC, we have a strong program here, we got some great students.”
Barton said he hopes the GRCC Concert Choir will step up and be leaders when the other choirs arrive on Wednesday.
“I know that our students can go in there with a sense of, you know, ‘we’re gonna lead this, by example, help everyone out, show them what to do,’” Barton said. “And I think that’s the kind of sense of pride that this group has and this program has had for a number of years.”
The choir is getting some praise from passersby already as they practice for Wednesday’s performance.
“You guys sound exquisite, I’m out in the hall crying, just beautiful,” said a woman passing by the classroom who popped her head in during the rehearsal.
Max Schawtz, 18, from Lowell, is in his first year at GRCC and said he’s not nervous for the performance and doesn’t get stage fright. “People hate me for that,” Schawtz said.
Emily Bosker, 21, from Jenison, is a soloist with the GRCC’s Concert Choir, and she feels differently about the concert.
“I’m a little bit nervous, it’s my first time performing in front of a lot of people as a soloist,” Bosker said. “But I’m also really excited, I’m going to school for vocal performance and this is getting me ready for the real world.”