INDIANOLA, Iowa – The Women’s Chorale, Chamber Singers, Madrigal Singers, and College Choir are the four vocal groups that make up Simpson College’s vocal music program, and they all work hard to share music on campus and beyond.
“All of the ensembles are top auditioned ensembles,” said Tim McMillin, music teacher and director of choral and vocal activities.
The ensembles are classified by size and genre of music sung. Sometimes the ensembles combine to perform a large choral piece together.
“I really enjoy playing slow classical music,” said sophomore Darian Briles, a soprano. “It’s easy to get in and sounds really good in the church. “
Briles sang in the Women’s Choir last year and now sings in the College Choir.
“I’m really excited to be singing with guys and girls this year,” Briles said. “I love hearing the rich voices of the bass and tenor sections and how these contrast with the soprano and viola voices.”
The students involved in these ensembles are not all music majors. Majors can audition for music scholarships, but music activity scholarships can also be awarded to students who are not pursuing the major and still wish to sing in an ensemble.
McMillin leads the college choir and chamber singers, while Dennis Hendrickson leads the female choir and Zach Rohlwing leads the Madrigal Singers.
“I can stand in front of musicians and make music, which I love to do, and I know that’s what they love to do. There is no life much better than this, ”said McMillin.
The Women’s Chorale and Madrigal Singers rehearse two hours a week on Tuesday and Thursday. The College Choir and Chamber Singers rehearse three hours a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“Beyond rehearsals, time expectations come around performance times,” McMillin said.
In preparation for a concert, there is usually a rehearsal the day before to put the finishing touches on the musical pieces. On the day of the concert, musicians must be ready at a call time set by their director before the performance to warm up as a group.
“Outside of rehearsal time, there can be anywhere from 10 to 12 hours of rehearsals and additional performances,” McMillin said.
McMillin said he’s aware of his students’ busy schedules, so he’s careful not to schedule too many additional performances throughout the year.
“The Chamber Singers, College Choir and occasionally the Madrigal Singers will perform at certain off-campus events,” said McMillin.
McMillin has the opportunity to directly invite honorary choirs from nearby high schools and, when asked, brings in a Simpson choir to share music and generate interest in the music program. by Simpson.
Recently, the Chamber Singers performed with the Chancellor’s Choir of the First United Methodist Church on October 15 for a homecoming service on campus. In the spring, the First United Methodist Church will host the Simpson singers for “Simpson Sunday” to collaborate again for the service. Also in the spring, the singers of Madrigal will perform with choirs from the Des Moines region as part of a musical exchange.
“Next year the Chamber Singers will be doing a five-day regional tour,” said McMillin. “We could go to Minneapolis, Chicago, or Kansas City.”
This tour takes place every two years in the music department, alternating between the orchestra and choral groups. This year the group will travel.
“The purpose of the tour is to have choral exchange opportunities with high school ridings, so people know about the music program in Simpson,” McMillin said.
There is also an international tour of the music department every two quarters of May. The department will once again have this travel opportunity in May 2019. The department is currently looking for a destination in southern Europe, but nothing is set in stone.
The next concerts of the music department will take place on November 5 and 12.