In an effort to glean insider information into the inner workings of the 2019-2020 Parables Worship Ensemble, I sat down with members Katy Thornthwaite and Ainslee Zhou, both sophomores, and Nathan Berkey, a junior, to talk about team chemistry, upcoming events and what we’ve always wanted to know about Marcia Yost.
Parables, a worship ensemble from Goshen College, combines music, original drama and personal stories to create an engaging worship experience designed to inspire, comfort and challenge.
Q: If you had to describe your Parables season in a word, what would it be?
Katie: I’d say “dynamic.”
Ainslee: “Chaos” is the best word possible.
Q: Awesome! This is more of a basic question, but in a typical concert, who sings what voice part?
K: Anna Smucker and I typically sing alto, although I do sing soprano on one or two pieces. Ainslee and Nithya [Abraham] are sopranos.
A: Yeah, I sing alto on one piece. Nathan, you sing bass on all pieces, right?
N: Yeah, although Alex Miller is usually on bass and then Ben Reichenbach’s on tenor.
K: We only have seven [people], so there’s jumping around.
Q: Right. How do you feel about having an odd number?
K: It makes putting someone in the center really easy! It does make it harder for doubling, though. A lot of pieces are made for eight parts.
A: Round songs are definitely something that we’ve had to work on and are still working on.
Q: How do you feel that your songs are embodying your “Follow the Call” theme?
N: The last piece specifically, “I Have Decided,” is a nice piece of just saying, “Yes, I have decided that I am going to do this.” So it’s a very good embodiment of the ending of the journey. We have made this choice and we’re moving forward. The rest of the pieces are working toward that self-discovery of “What does it mean to follow the call? How do I choose to follow the call?”
Q: Do you have any personal favorite pieces or a favorite piece to perform as a team?
A: I really like “You’re the Fire.” That’s our first piece. It’s the one we worked on for the longest, and I feel like we’re just at the point where we can just experience each other and be more in the music and kind of, like, play off each other’s energy because we’re the most comfortable.
K: I also really like “Bless the Lord” even though it’s been one of our biggest battles. I feel like it’s a piece you wouldn’t expect in a worship setting. And so I think just the challenge of that and the complexity of the piece makes it kind of fun.
Q: Tell me something you’ve learned about Marcia that most people wouldn’t know.
K: When she references her lake house, it’s actually houses. There’s two.
N: There’s actually three.
K (laughing): Oh yeah, there’s three. They’re all next door to each other!
A: I just believe that there’s nobody that could do what Marcia is doing this year, because not only is she doing everything she was doing before, but she also took on a majority of Deb [Detwiler] and José [Rocha]’s responsibilities as well as still doing Parables and taking on Voices of the Earth.
K: And all of her choir stuff outside, like Sommo Voce, and stuff at her church. She conducts her own church choir. But yeah, I’ve just learned that Marcia is a really strong person and I’m thankful.
Q: Are there any upcoming concerts or events that you’re looking forward to?
A: We perform Homecoming weekend!
K: I think the tour is our next biggest thing; we’re going to Kansas City [over fall break]. I think it’ll be a good bonding experience for this whole group. I also think it’ll influence our music in a way that will be positive.
A (laughing): We do spend a lot of time together.
Q: All right — this is my last question. What makes your Parables group special?
A: I remember when we were auditioning, I was like, “Everyone here is so different; I don’t know what our show’s gonna look like.” We all have very different backgrounds when it comes to music. I guess that makes us very diverse.
K: Something special about this year’s group is that we have a lot of instrumentalists.
A: Yeah. We have, like, nine different instruments.
K: So we have a lot of instrumentals backing up some of our pieces, which I don’t think has been done before to the extent that we’re doing it.
Q: Nathan, do you play your upright bass?
N: I have an electric bass guitar. In all, I think I play three different instruments in a span of 45 minutes while we’re singing. We play Tetris every time we load up the van.
Q: Any parting words for the folks at home?
K: Come see Parables! Our schedule is on our website at www.goshen.edu/faith/Parables-worship-ensemble. [Laughter]
Content has been edited and condensed.