Having a project last for 10 years is no small feat, and St. Cloud State’s annual choir concert and recruitment series, “The Big Sing”, is no exception. Having gone to the tenth annual Big Sing concert, you can just get a feel for the amount of work that went into this project as an outsider. For people that have played instruments, or performed in a choir themselves, you gain an even greater appreciation for pleasantly or complicated sounding compositions. The amount of hours required spent practicing to produce something that sounds pleasant to the ears is not as easy as one might think; playing the right notes or singing at the right pitch at the right time is a learned process. I am in the latter camp, a former trumpet and baritone horn player, and even still I was impressed by the performing choirs.
As the nature of this concert is to both recruit and to perform, the first performing choir was the Sauk Rapids-Rice Concert Choir, under the direction and conduction of Steven D. Mick. I didn’t know what to expect from this concert choir, but their entire set left me stunned. The SRR Concert Choir was very enjoyable to my ears and very adept at carrying mellow sounds. Their female solo vocalist must be commended for her performance; I was very impressed with her ability and skill during her solo, and she outshined the male vocalist on stage, who was also very skilled in his own right.
The concert choir capped their set with “Freedom Train,” a very enjoyable and peppy composition. It felt like I was listening to my aunt’s southern church choir all over again. Overall, I am very impressed with the performers of the SRR Concert Choir and hope they continue to practice their craft. They are well practiced and very talented.
SRRCC’s set had a majority of Christianity related or influenced compositions. In contrast, SCSU’s own Concert Choir performed more exotic sounding compositions, in an effort to draw the interest of the high school choir students in attendance. Now, I haven’t been in high school in under a decade, but after hearing the performance of “Sounding Sea”, I would have been immediately convinced if I were.
The SCSU Concert Choir put on a performance that the rest of the human form can be used as an instrument and just their voice. The thunder of the sea pounding provided by feet stomps, versus the later gentle crashes of the sea on the coast of whispers. This choir really knew how to put on a show. Dr. Ferrell should be proud of this group.
The third and final choir of the night was a combined effort, with the previous two choirs combining with invited students from other high schools. This combination becomes the Big Sing Festival Chorus, and they performed four pieces, three of them conducted and composted by world-traveled composer Jake Runestad. The first piece of this set, “Let Everything That Hath Breath”, composed by Jeffery Ames, stands out for two key reasons. First, it gave off an even peppier southern church choir vibe than the previous pieces, and second is the solo vocalist who came to the front of the stage. That dude has a killer set of lungs.
As the conductor stepped down, the choir took on a different vibe. Smiles were everywhere as Jake Runestad took the stage, for the composer has had his pieces appear in the Big Sing before. “It was a lot of fun,” said Brittany Rooney, a senior at SCSU. “[This] was my fourth year involved in this program. It was just a great experience to have Jake Runestad here. We’ve sung his pieces, now all four I’ve been here we’ve sung a song of his. It’s a lot of fun to put a face and a personality to the songs we’ve been singing.”
After the Festival Chorus concluded their concert, I could see why he got the smiles and praises of his performers. His style of composition is very unique, with nothing but interesting sounds coming from the chorus as a result. Nyon Nyon is the perfect example of this, as it included elements of beatboxing amongst other elements I cannot place. He is certainly an interesting artist to listen to, and the audience seemed to agree, as Jake and the chorus received a standing ovation for the song “Please Stay.” “Please Stay” was composed around Twitter users who posted about suicide who stepped away from the proverbial ledge.
The Big Sing was a great event to gain a brief moment in the presence of talent. The concert choirs, as well as the other attending students, should be proud of their skill. It certainly made my dull Saturday much more enjoyable. It is my Hope that the High School students continue to practice their craft, even if they don’t decide to major with it. If the Big Sing is of any indication, they’d be in good hands.