The Singing Life at Oglethorpe ♪♫

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The 2013-2014 University Singers pictured in the new Turner Lynch Campus Center.

The first time I visited Oglethorpe I was nervous beyond belief. I was auditioning for a choral scholarship and I had no clue what Oglethorpe would be like. I had taken the tour online and thought it was gorgeous. But, I was just not sure about what the campus atmosphere would be.

Dr. Irwin Ray

Dr. Irwin Ray

I auditioned with Dr. W. Irwin Ray, earning myself a $500 conditional scholarship and I joined the University Singers as an alto. I have come a long way from that nervous high school senior. I have sung in the alto section for three years now and I am in my fourth and final year in the University Singers.

I have many wonderful memories of the singers but my favorite part is our concerts. We work hard to bring songs together and present them to the public. We have sung some hilarious pieces such as the folk song “I Bought Me a Cat” and pieces that are more recognizable like the “Les Miserables” medley we sang in the spring. Every year, the Boar’s Head Concert is a fun way to combine celebrating the winter season and our student organizations on campus. This concert is, in many ways, one of the more interesting events on campus throughout the school year and my favorite concert of the year. (After singing a variety of seasonal pieces, a feast is held in honor of our friend, the boar, who choked down more than he could chew when a student saved himself with his Aristotle book…or so the legend goes.)

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

The Singers is filled with hard-working, multifaceted students. I’ve watched Kyle Brumley ’12 go from being an actor in Oglethorpe theater productions to becoming a leading man in Atlanta theater. I’ve heard beautiful music composed and produced by John Burke ’11 on Pandora Internet radio. And I’ve watched Samantha Flynn ’14 revive the student newspaper. All of these students also served as section leaders.

Dr. Ray helps students who work hard to learn and improve. As I mentioned, I started out with a conditional scholarship at $500. I have currently doubled my scholarship and taken away the conditional status of it as well. Hard work pays off in the University Singers and it helps students experience a different side of the Oglethorpe University education.

So, I hope you will come see (and hear) us in action. Join us for the Singers’ Fall concert, this Friday, November 1, 2013 at 8 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe. The concert is free and open to all.  You can also follow us on Twitter!: @oglesingers or on Facebook: Oglethorpe University Singers.

Watch the Oglethorpe University Singers perform the national anthem at the Feb. 2013 homecoming basketball game:

 

OU Hosts Atlanta Chamber Music Festival

OU's Dr. Runnels Leads a Trio

OU’s Dr. Brent Runnels leads a trio.

The Atlanta Chamber Music Festival is a three-day seminar for middle and high school musicians—and this year, Oglethorpe is hosting the event!

This intensive workshop allows budding musicians musicians to hone their craft with the help and coaching of renowned professional musicians from the Atlanta area, including OU artist-in-residence Dr. Brent Runnels. Students have the opportunity to play together in chamber and orchestral ensembles and to perform with more advanced musicians.ACMF 032 The faculty also perform in a chamber recital open to all students. And, the the grand finale is a student recital on Saturday evening, followed by a reception for all.

Founders Katie Holland, Jonathan Wright, and Jessica Sherer founded the program after they noticed a lack of education for young musicians interested in chamber music selections, especially outside of the classroom. The music festival strives to encourage and educate students who have a passion for chamber music or simply want to diversify their skill set.

Young violinists at work

Young violinists at work

Eager to share their love and knowledge of music, students get a glimpse into the daily life of a working musician. Participants are taught pieces of music, given little time to rehearse, and then showcase their hard work in front of a live audience.  These pressures and time constraints provide a real-life experience for the students as well as a “testing of the waters” of their possible future profession.

Only in its second year of existence, the festival is making major strides in the lives of young and promising musicians. We are excited to support and to be a part of the festival’s promising beginnings!

Pursuit of Passion: Musical Performances at Oglethorpe

Dr. Ray leads the musical accompaniment at Oglethorpe's 2012 Commencement.

Dr. W. Irwin Ray, director of musical activities, shines as a source of inspiration for his students. His love for the arts is evident, and he hopes to instill in his students a similar passion.

“I think everyone needs to figure out what they love daily,” he says. “If you’re passionate about doing something, you will do it well…”

His own passion propelled him to pursue a career in music and to dedicate himself to advancing students’ education and music appreciation.

“I really believe in our school,” said Dr. Ray, who teaches music classes and conducts the University Singers and Chorale. “This where I need to be and where I want to be… I feel like I’m making a difference in (students’) lives.”

Dr. Ray also leads the effort for Oglethorpe’s music programming, finding outside professional groups to perform on campus. He brings these musicians to campus in part to inspire his students and give them the opportunity to hear a variety of music, courtesy of bands, orchestras, opera companies and more.

“We try to look for programs with connections to majors, preferably Core,” said Dr. Ray. “I make sure they all meet the highest standard of quality… Many classes build their lectures around the performances.”

One such performer was alumnus John Burke ’11, whom Dr. Ray describes as “amazing.”  Thanks to Dr. Ray’s efforts to find these performers, 70% of music students, such as John, continue to embrace music in their post-grad lives.

This month, Dr. Ray has invited two stellar acts to the Oglethorpe campus: the Atlanta Concert Band and the Capitol City Opera. He describes the Atlanta Concert Band as being “for band music what the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is to orchestral music,” and adds that “the Capitol City Opera is a (local and inexpensive) showcase for good people in Atlanta… it has a great reputation.”

In order to encourage these musicians to perform, Dr. Ray has adopted a process of co-sponsorship. This means that performers are given a discount to use the Conant Center for Performing Arts in exchange for allowing the Oglethorpe community to listen for free (with a Petrel Pass!). On May 4, 2013, Georgia Philharmonic will also be on campus as part of a co-sponsorship, and Dr. Ray has more plans in the works, including an international music presentation.

“These performances help (advance) education,” said Dr. Ray, “and build a really great experience and public image… I believe that a university should offer a wakening of not only learning but lifelong passions.”

Be sure to come out to the Atlanta Concert Band’s performance on March 9 in Conant at 8 pm, and attend the Capitol City Opera performances on March 15 and 16 at 8 pm, and March 17 at 3 pm, also in the Conant Performing Arts Center!