On Sunday, Feb. 5 at 4 p.m., the Goshen College men’s chorus will host the first-ever Men’s Choral Festival Concert in Sauder Concert Hall.Scott Hochstetler, associate professor of music, spearheaded the event, inviting local men’s choirs to be involved as well. Along with GC’s choir, the concert will feature the Goshen High School Crimson Men’s Choir, the Northridge High School Varsity Lights and The Open Fifths, a local men’s a capella group.
This is the first time Goshen College has had a men’s choir-specific concert. Hochstetler notes that in the past, GC has hosted a concert “called the Venus and Mars Festival, where it has been a men’s mass choir and a women’s mass choir going on simultaneously.” This event served as the inspiration for this concert.
Hochstetler says the goal of the concert is to “honor all the male choral singing that is going on in this town and highlight it. Because people, like with treble choirs, seem to really enjoy those range-specific ensembles, because there’s a sound that’s created by the over and undertones of those choirs that just isn’t available in a mixed choir.”
Although there isn’t a women’s choir festival equivalent planned for this year, the women’s choir will have a women-only concert on Mar. 5 as a way of finishing off their week-long spring tour to Canada. Hochstetler also hopes that the model established by the men’s choir festival can be applied to a women’s choir festival in the future.
Although the festival is partially a recruitment tool for local high schoolers interested in GC’s music program, the involvement of The Open Fifths expands the reach of the concert to the broader community.
Kent Beck, founder and co-director of The Open Fifths (TO5) started the group after moving back to Goshen from Washington, D.C.
“I have always enjoyed choral singing,” Beck said, “but once I had the opportunity to sing in a TTBB (tenor & bass parts only) group I was hooked, particularly a capella.”
The group started small with weekly hymn sings but gradually grew to include local composers and arrangers Adam Tice, TO5 musical director, and Lee Dengler, composer of one of the pieces TO5 is performing and one of the mass choir numbers.
Currently, the group is composed of 13 men, nine of whom are GC graduates. Brody Thomas, a 2015 graduate, is the assistant director of the ensemble.
The group is very honored and humbled to be involved in the festival, according to Beck.
“The great thing is that we’re basically going to be singing with and to potential future members,” he said.
The concert will be made up of three songs per choir, as well as three mass choir songs with all 150 men. The four ensembles have been working on the group pieces separately and will have a combined rehearsal on Sunday before the concert.
Members of the GC Men’s chorus are excited for the opportunity to collaborate with other choirs. Galed Krisjayanta, a senior choir member, says he is excited to share music with the other choirs and watch them perform.
Spencer Aeschliman, a sophomore, and Wade Troyer, a senior, agree that they are most excited for the men’s choir piece “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson.
“It is a challenging, beautiful piece that really brings out the best this choir has to offer,” said Aeschliman.
Tickets for the concert are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors/students and free for GC faculty/staff/students with ID.