On the evening of Friday, Feb. 2, the Goshen College Men’s Chorus joined with local ensemble The Open Fifths and men’s choirs from Goshen High School and Bethany Christian Schools for a concert in Sauder Concert Hall. This was the second annual rendition of the Men’s Choir Festival.
Each ensemble performed individually, and as part of the joint group of all four choirs. According to Scott Hochstetler, a music professor who directs the GC Men’s Chorus, the joint choirs spent about three hours together on the day of the concert. Their afternoon included campus tours and a musical clinic, in addition to practice time.
GC first-year Nathan Pauls said he was “surprised by how quickly the time went,” but noted that such limited joint rehearsal time didn’t really present a problem, as everyone seemed well-prepared.
According to Hochstetler, each group had practiced one of the mass choir pieces, “Zion’s Walls,” prior to the day of the festival. On the day of the concert, he worked with the whole group on both this piece and the other joint piece: the gospel selection “Soon and Very Soon.”
“I love working with high school students and seeing them transform in such a short time,” Hochstetler said. “[And] I love conducting a large men’s chorus… there’s nothing that compares to the sound produced by over one hundred talented low-voiced singers.”
Jonah Yoder, a GC junior and choral assistant also expressed this sentiment.
“One of the coolest things about performing with other choirs is the sheer power we have when we sing together,” Yoder said. “We can have amazingly powerful louds and intense intimate quiets, I think it’s so impressive.”
Yoder, Pauls and Hochstetler all commented on the significance of the exchange that takes place when choirs come together. Pauls noted that he enjoyed the experience of listening to another men’s group sing, in addition to performing and being part of one. Yoder said he appreciates how everyone can “come together to share our love of music with each other and with the audience.”
Hochstetler mentioned some of the same ideas as part of his goal in bringing these groups together.
“I wanted to…promote camaraderie among the groups, share songs… sing together. I wanted to inspire the younger singers by having them see what is possible at the next level.”
The Men’s Choir Festival will likely remain a GC tradition. According to Hochstetler, there was a significant amount of positive feedback from audience members, one of whom said they “were moved to tears.”