Requiem honors the life of Detwiler

Requiem honors the life of Detwiler

Those who were in attendance at the Homecoming Gala earlier this fall will remember witnessing an important announcement: the changing of the name of the Men’s Chorus to Vox Profundi, which is Latin for “Voices of the Deep.”

The change came following the rechristening of the Women’s World Music Choir to Voices of the Earth last spring. That concert also marked the 15th anniversary of the creation of the two choirs.

Deb Detwiler, the conductor of Voices of the Earth until her death last spring, thought that it was especially important to make sure that Goshen’s choirs were inclusive to all singers regardless of gender identification.

After having a couple of students come forward about feeling as though they didn’t feel included within the gender binary of the choirs, Detwiler and Scott Hochstetler, director of Vox Profundi, decided it was time to make a change. 

“I like [the name Voices of the Earth]. I enjoy it. I think it captures both our connection to the ground and the land that supports us as well as to women and nonbinary people across the world,” said Anna McVay, a sophomore. “It’s also something that reminds me of Deb, which is nice. It’s something that we created with [her].”

The former Men’s Chorus waited for Hochstetler’s return from leading the SST unit in Peru to decide on a new name.

One reason for the choice of their new name was that Vox Profundi sings a very classical repertoire. Hochstetler said they perform “ancient music and a lot of a capella music.” This made Latin a more appropriate choice for the group.

“I’m glad for the name change. It sounds super cool, and it makes the choir’s focus more on the voice part that someone wants to sing rather than what they’re [expected] to sing,” Nathan Pauls, a junior, said. 

Other changes are coming to the music department as well. A search is ongoing for a voice professor to fill the position left behind by Detweiler.

The search committee is made up of Scott Hochstetler, Solomia Soroka and Matthew Hill, professors of music, Suzanne Ehst, professor of education, and Gilberto Perez, Jr., dean of students.

Detwiler left behind a role that was both a voice teacher and of a choir director. However, she did her doctoral work as a vocalist, and the department’s nationwide search is looking to continue that trend.

“[T]he voice thing is kind of non-negotiable. We want an artist teacher who is an active performer and can inspire…voice students,” Hochstetler said. 

The applications are due in early November. Following the interview process, candidates will come to campus. 

“Their plan is to have somebody here…by the beginning of next year,” Marica Yost said. 

This year, Yost is filling in as director of Voices of the Earth and is teaching several music courses in addition to being director of the arts. 

“I’m trying to be true to who I am…and at the same time honor what was [Deb]…[and] keep everybody’s eyes and hearts and voices open to something different,” Yost said.

No search is currently ongoing for the position of orchestra director and professor of music that was filled by Jose Rocha, who left at the end of last year. Brian Mast, executive director of the Music Center, is currently directing the Goshen College Symphonic Orchestra. 

The next upcoming event in the music department is the Brahms Requiem performance in memory of Detweiler. 

“The Brahms is powerful. It’s…a very fine and appropriate way to give her some needed honor,” Yost said. 

Hochstetler is hoping the concert will help in providing closure.

“It’s not a requiem for the dead as much as it is a requiem for the living, so [it’s for] those who are left behind after a loss, which is how we find ourselves…We feel like it’s important to have something…to do now along with all of us, and so that’s why [the Requiem] involves all the orchestra, all the singers, and we even have some community members that are joining us,” Hochstetler said.  

Community members include Goshen College alumni and Yost. 

The Requiem will be sung in English because Brahms specifically wrote in the accessible language of his countrymen rather than using Latin. Hochstetler also made some changes to the words himself in order to make them more inclusive to those singing, as that was something Detwiler always felt strongly about. 

The concert is on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Sauder Concert Hall. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors/students. GC faculty/staff/students get in free with ID.

Reporting done by Olivia Smucker, Record Arts Editor

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Written by Kristin Jantzen, Staff Writer

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