Most of the new members of the Knox College Choir have had previous experience with music in some capacity before attending Knox, whether they have kindled a love for singing from their younger years or sang in the past through high school choirs. For freshman Ibrahim Sakrani, the choir had appealed to him as early as his college search process.
“It was one of the selling points of Knox when I came here,” Sakrani said. “I knew I didn’t want to be a music major, but I still wanted to sing.”
Many colleges with choir programs limit the opportunity to be in choir only to students whose majors are related to music. Knox’s different attitudes appealed not only to Sakrani, but to many others as well. Senior Madeline Lag, who transferred to Knox last year, acknowledged this quality of the ensemble that she’s been able to explore for the first time.
“You have people from all the different academic disciplines… people spanning from computer science… to psychology… to education… It’s very inclusive,” Lag said.
Choir members come together three times per week to practice: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Spending roughly five to six hours working on music each week, the choir puts a significant amount of time toward constructively perfecting their tones and techniques.
“We always start right on time,” Lag said. “As soon as the clock strikes four… We warm up our body really quick—shake it out, get rid of the stress—and then we start doing warm-ups for five to 10 minutes.”
Freshman Ingrid Wasmer also detailed the protocol for a typical choir rehearsal past warm-ups.
“Usually Laura [Lane], our choir director, has a list of things we need to fix. We usually do a run-through of the song and then she’ll figure out what we need to work on, give us tips,” she said.
Another element of the program collectively appreciated among new members is its diversityÑnot only in its students, but in the pieces they perform as well. At their upcoming concert, they will be performing pieces in Arabic, Hindi and Swahili. Lag commented on the aspect of their musical choices, noting it to be a distinct feature of the choir.
“The thing that is really distinct about Knox’s choir is the attention to… creating a really diverse program. We consciously pick pieces based on the composer and discuss the works on a larger level than just dynamics… I haven’t experienced that as much with other choirs,” Lag said.
Wasmer also noted diversity as being a strength of the program.
“[My favorite part of choir is] the large variety of songs we get to sing,” Wasmer said. “We sing songs from a lot of different cultures.”
Underneath the music and the meaning, new members have come to appreciate a part of choir that echoes beyond their last notes—the friendships they have made. Sakrani noted that most of his friendships at Knox so far have come from choir.
Freshman Julian Bowens Robinson acknowledged the breath of fresh air that comes with being surrounded by like-minded individuals.
“Along with the people in choir, definitely just the music and the people taking things seriously,” Robinson said when sharing his favorite aspect of choir. “It’s not a scary environment though, either, so it’s a good balance… being serious, but not intimidating.”
With this optimistic take on typical rehearsals, Robinson is also confident about the future. He expressed his excitement for the future endeavors of the choir as well.
“We’re going to D.C. this year,” Robinson said. “We’re excited for tour. That’s when everyone bonds the most.”