Singing outdoors provides a lift

Within the context of strict adherence to School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (SMTD) and CSU COVID-19 policies, SMTD has persevered. Rather than abandon a semester of group music-making, the choral area has modified its approach to rehearsals by moving outdoors and providing a much-needed creative outlet for skill development. 

University Chorus director, Dr. Seth Pendergast, shared his thoughts about a recent rehearsal experience:

I thought I would share two uplifting moments from our University Chorus rehearsal on Oct. 1. There are many things in life that are exhausting right now, and I was refreshed by these two moments.

As we conducted our thirty-minute sectional in the field next to the UCA gardens, a woman sat about 100 feet from us on a picnic table. The students were singing a piece they knew particularly well, and sang out. At the end of the piece, the woman began applauding - probably the first live applause I’ve heard since early spring. I thanked her. She told us how much she missed our performances here and how she couldn’t wait for them to resume. She told us we were beautiful, and she went on her way. It just reminded me the lights will go back up, we’ll be back on the stage, and the room will be full of people ready to hear and see a bit of beauty.

For the remainder of the rehearsal, we listened to and discussed choral settings of some Walt Whitman poetry.

I sing the body, the body electric
I sing the song of companionship
Come said the muse, sing me a song no poet yet has chanted
Sing, sing, sing, sing
Sing me the universal
Oh, the joy of my spirit, it is uncaged

At the end of the discussion, an out-of-state freshman stood up (completely unprompted) and told the group that she was struggling. She was feeling lonely, isolated, and homesick. She courageously offered to start a group chat for anyone who was feeling similarly. Almost immediately, she was surrounded by over half the class. Everyone left smiling and laughing. Not to read too much into it, but in my view, there is something that borders on the sacred in a moment like that. In a world that is so dim at times, someone was made whole. A spirit, uncaged...

I’m leaving tonight with a bit of lift in my step. I’m privileged to work with each of you. Be well, do good.

Seth Pendergast, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Music Education