Chorale Concert features two student-created pieces for the first time
Lee University Chorale featured two student-created compositions for the first time at its spring concert on March 15.
Earlier this semester, Lee’s student chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association and Lee’s Composers’ Forum worked together to organize a student composition contest. The winners of the competition, Nora Swindle and Katie Kilgore, had their pieces performed by Chorale at the spring concert held in Pangle Hall.
Junior music major Nora Swindle wrote a piece titled “Invictus,” inspired by the poem of the same name written by William Ernest Henley.
“Last semester, my best friend from high school had a child that passed away. That child was my goddaughter. A lot of grief in my life sprouted from that,” Swindle said. “During that time, I came across a poem called ‘Invictus.’ The author wrote it while in the hospital having his legs amputated. These words gave me an extreme sense of peace. It sounded to me like a call to action.”
Swindle has been singing since she was in middle school and said she wrote this song around her struggle with grief and heartbreak.
“The mood I was trying to portray in this song was perseverance despite grief,” Swindle said, “because that is what I learned to do to get back on track with my life after that loss.”
Katie Kilgore, a junior music major with a trumpet emphasis, wrote her piece, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep,” by using a piano to work out each part to fit the famous poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. The last stanza of the poem was the inspiration for the piece and even became the title.
“I wrote the parts for soprano, alto, tenor and bass with the tenor as the melody. The melody itself is a canon, so it repeats over and over. It stays this way until the last verse,” Kilgore said. “The mood I was going for with this piece was one of reflection and contemplation. This poem was a metaphor for life to me. Life is beautiful, and we can linger to admire things around us, but we can’t do that forever because we have things to do…we have miles to go before we sleep.”
The musical pieces composed by Kilgore and Swindle were selected as winners from a composition contest judged by a “blind” panel of three judges, ensuring that the panelists did not know whose piece they were evaluating.
Assistant professor of choral music and director Dr. Jonathan Rodgers said that featuring Swindle and Kilgore's pieces was a special highlight of the concert.
“I think the audience responded very positively to these pieces,” Rogers said. “Many students were in attendance and knew Katie or Nora. They were ecstatic about being able to support their friends.”
According to Rodgers, the concert consisted of a completely a cappella program. The theme was “Past, Present, and Future,” with the emphasis on looking back on the concert's 15 year history.
“The beauty of choral music is the transmission of ideas through the combination of words and music,” Rodgers said. “This is what creates a unique experience distinct from purely instrumental performances. In light of this, we have constructed a program based on texts that look to the past, texts that remind us of present realities, but also texts that propel us forward to imagine what is to come.”
The concert is a time to display the abilities of the choir members as well as introduce audiences to a variety of choral music. According to Rodgers, the choir is a credited class, which means a public performance serves as a class test.
“The students have worked incredibly hard,” Rodgers said. “I believe we have something special to share with our audience.”
In addition to the two student compositions, this year's spring concert also featured a piece by associate professor of music theory and composition Dr. John Wykoff. The group performed works in Russian, Latin, Hebrew and English.
For more information about the concert and other School of Music events, call (423) 614-8240.