Each spring, Northwestern College’s A cappella Choir embarks on a tour that takes the group across the country.
This year they will be heading to South Dakota, stopping in Sioux Falls, Platte and Dell Rapids then taking a turn south towards Omaha and Sioux City. The choir will give performances for communities as well as several in local high schools working with students on what it means to be a collegiate ensemble.
Under the direction of Dr. Thomas Holm, they will be sharing the message of God’s grace and the work of Christ in our lives.
The choir’s concert consists of three sets. The first is compiled of sacred texts, beginning with two praise songs that are a call to worship and to bow down before the Lord. The ensemble sings both of these pieces in a round, circulating the audience to demonstrate the full effect of the style of the pieces when they were originally written.
Then the concert begins with a Charles Wesley hymn called “Idumea” that explores the fear believers have about facing death. A small reader’s theater group then presents a small chorus about who Jesus really is, what his life means and how he fulfills the Old Testament through the prominent characters. The choir then sings “Amazing Grace” composed into a beautiful and flowing eight part harmony and the set closes with Mother Theresa’s prayer about living a life bigger than self and how to serve others.
Their second set is a virtuosity of pieces straying more towards a showy pop style without any specific language or theme. It opens with the women of the choir singing a piece that was recently used in the opening number of Disney’s ‘Frozen’ and then the men following up with an adaptation of the familiar tune “Jimmy Crack Corn.” There’s a challenging but entertaining piece for a tenor yodeler that explores the concepts of overtone singing and rhythmic irregularity. The set closes with a few other pieces of slower, richer text like the African anthem “Noel.”
The choir’s third and final set consists of familiar black gospel numbers and spiritual hits as well as the ensemble’s traditional closing of “Beautiful Savior.” There are many solos that are fun for the singers as well as the audience.
Several years ago, Holm asked his ensemble if tour was worth the effort, money and stress it took to prepare. The responses from students were overwhelming: touring is incredibly important.
“They are building community and getting to know one another,” said Holm. “They are serving, traveling, and praying side by side.”
But no one in the ensemble can go on tour without forgetting the effort it took to become performance ready. When students are off book they are able to know the music well enough with heart and soul to express it in the way that it was written.
“It’s important that tour becomes important for people to be in choir,” said Holm. “If we didn’t have tour then the enjoyment of being in either band or choir would be less.”
There are many different styles of music displayed in the A cappella Choir’s program. They are surely going to be a blessing to any who come to experience the beauty of God’s gift of music.