UND's concert choir has triumphed in the past and is ready to take on whatever comes their way


Emily D. Hill

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UND's concert choir has triumphed in the past and is ready to take on whatever comes their way

The University of North Dakota Choir is a group of selected students who choose to fill their noon hour, five days a week, with serious musicianship. From all departments of study, the choir students not only devote themselves to the performance of a repertoire that derives from many cultures, covers six centuries and various languages, but also achieve the primary enormous goal of any musical ensemble — the ability for the many to join together in one collective melodic voice.

The many hours the Concert Choir students devote to their craft are enormous. Not only do they come together to sing for one hour per day, they also spend countless hours outside of the Hughes Fine Arts Center's choral room. There is an expectation that they practice independently and in sectionals. They attend additional rehearsals closer to concert time. They are to keep their scores updated with any important directional markings and comprehension notes of various foreign translations. But most importantly, they must spend time getting to know each other by listening to their fellow members' voices. This may come in the form of listening for complex and dissonant harmonies in a challenging piece of postmodern music and adjusting voices to balance with other choir mates, but it also means contributing to the group as a whole. This may mean students raising hands to point out difficult sections, bringing suggestions to the table to provide for a better sound, and learning from each other to become a cohesive community of voices. It does not matter if the students are studying vocal performance, engineering or aviation; Concert Choir challenges each student to contribute as a choir member and expects the highest results.

Choral Education student, Brian Larrabee, describes the Concert Choir relationship as a family. "You need to be great friends with the other members to make a great sound," said Larrabee.

Decades of Excellence

The UND Concert Choir is the premier choral group on campus and it has a very rich history that is engrained into the university's legacy. Born into the campus tradition in 1961 as the "University Chorus," the ensemble was pieced together by Dr. James T. Fudge by pulling tenor and bass members from the main chorus, The Varsity Bards, as well as auditioning sopranos, altos, tenors and basses from across the entire student body.

Today, although under a new name, the structure and vision for the ensemble remains true to the tradition established over 50 years ago. However, throughout the past seven years, the UND Concert Choir has evolved rapidly, making the transition from just another college choir to a semi-professional level under the direction of Dr. Joshua Bronfman.

Jace Erickson describes well the choir's growing potential. "I chose to attend UND because the Concert Choir was at a stage of development and I wanted to be part of that. I feel like the choir is at a level that can contend internationally."

In recent years, Dr. Joshua Bronfman transformed the UND Concert Choir into a nationally recognized ensemble. Through his years of training in Choral Music Education at both Florida State University and Oregon State University and his previous study with renowned conductors such as Anton Armstrong, Bruce Brown, Rodney Eichenberger, Simon Halsey, and André Thomas, he brings an interesting hybrid of choral conducting and vocal experience to UND music students.

Taking the Next Step

Bronfman plans to extend the skill and study of his students to the international level by taking a performance trip to Cuba in the spring of 2014.

The Concert Choir's trip to Cuba was scheduled to take place after the end of this upcoming spring semester. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances, the trip has been postponed until the spring of 2014. Bronfman and the students continue to work long and hard towards their preparation to sing with the National Choir of Cuba in the approaching year.

Emily D. Hill

UND English Lecturer

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