A Night of Blended Genres and Vocal Talent

Students rehearsing in the University ChorusBy Brody Hornaday, SMTD Publicity Intern

The Colorado State University Chorus, Mainstreet Acapella and Mountain Horns A Cappella groups are preparing for a night of beautiful performances that are sure to resonate throughout the audience. Performance pieces include works by J.S Bach, Daniel Elder, Jake Runestad, Nathan Howe, Samuel Barber, Kevin Padworski, and many more. Pieces being performed such as Howe’s “I had no time to hate,” and Barber’s “Sure on this Shining Night” are meant to enliven the heart and inspire us to trust that there is still light during these difficult times.

Nathan Payant, conductor of the University Chorus, was so deeply inspired by one song that he constructed the entire program around the piece. “’Please Stay’ by Jake Runestad is an important work for our times dealing with suicide,” Payant explains. “Runestad says, ‘Please Stay’ is an anthem for hope—an attempt to de-stigmatize mental illness and challenge all of us to support those who are battling depression and thoughts of suicide.”

Payant wants his choir’s performance to let everyone know that they are not alone, they can make a difference, and that everyone can band together and be the support system that saves a life. Sometimes, a little reminder can go a long way. “A central take away from this program is that each and every one of us is beautiful and has worth,” says Payant. “It is important to discover the light within ourselves and not be afraid to let it shine through the darkness that may surround us.”

Payant says he is thrilled that Mountain Horns and Mainstreet Acapella are joining the University Chorus for this concert (a few members from each group were his students when they were in high school). At one point in the concert, all three groups will come together and perform “True Light” by Keith Hampton.

Mainstreet Acapella, a student-led acapella group at CSU birthed in 2014, is leaving the pieces they plan to perform as their little secret. Ryan Wilke-Braun, a sophomore studying theatre performance and member of the ensemble for more than a year, is extremely excited about the repertoire they have lined up. “We are doing all original arrangements done by group members,” Wilke-Braun says. “All the songs you hear have been put together by different members of the group and they are arrangements you’ll only ever hear Mainstreet do.”

For Wilke-Braun and the Mainstreet group, acapella is a unique art form that reaches areas other forms of music can’t. “The thing I like most about acapella is the incredible ability to connect with an audience that you don’t get with other pop bands,” Wilke-Braun says. “It’s just the human voice being used which I always find gives many songs an amazing acoustic sound no other instrumentation gives.”

Mainstreet Acapella has never performed with the University Chorus, and the difference in style between all of the groups makes the event that much more unique. “The evening will have a great blend of more typical chorus music, but also have some pop songs that should be more recognizable Wilke-Braun explains. “There should be a little something for everyone!”

University Chorus students listening to a lectureThe third and final group completing the line-up is Mountain Horns A Cappella, an all-male student led group. Mountain Horns is the only tenor/bass vocal ensemble at CSU, and they want everyone to know that even though they are new, they are here to stay.

John Lampus, section leader in University Chorus and director of Mountain Horns, would like to reinforce the idea of how blending the styles of all three groups is a great performance opportunity. “I often find there’s an uncomfortable culture gap between classical choral ensembles and a cappella groups, so this concert acts as a bridge of some sort,” Lampus explains. “Frankly, it is going to be great.”

Mountain Horns’ repertoire includes “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant, and “Dark Place,” which is an original a cappella tune by composer Duncan Tuomi. “I always find the most enjoyable aspect of performing in this kind of ensemble is presenting the unique sound of the group in a variety of different musical contexts,” Lampus says. “Every vocal group has a unique sound and it is very rewarding for us in Mountain Horns to take our sound and place it in these different genres, each with their own cultures, techniques, and musical idioms.”

Music is a formidable force in society that has the power to inspire its listeners through its emotion. Having the ability to relate to both the words and melodies these groups are creating is a beautiful form of expression that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The concert takes in the Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts on April 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket Information

Tickets for the performance are no charge for Full-fee paying CSU students, $3 for youth (under 18), and $12 for seniors (62+), and $14 for adults. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) ticket office in the UCA lobby Monday through Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 60 minutes prior to performances, by phone at (970) 491-ARTS (2787), or online at csuartstickets.com.