North Central College student ensembles perform during choral directors conference

Oct 29, 2014

North Central College student ensembles performed in the College’s acoustically stunning Wentz Concert Hall during a fall conference of the Illinois chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (IL-ACDA).

Many of the 110 choral directors attending the Oct. 24-25 conference on the Naperville campus experienced the College’s seventh annual Explore the Sound concert, presented on Friday night to a sold-out house that included a wider community and professional audience. The theatrically lit and seamlessly staged event featured performances by the College’s four choral ensembles, as well as solo faculty artists and student musicians. It culminated in more than 150 instrumental and choral musicians combining talents for the final piece—adding audience participation on the last reprise with nearly 700 people filling the hall with music.

The conference also brought about 150 additional singers to campus through the Children’s Honors Choir, an exciting performance by the internationally renowned American Boy Choir, and an Honors Show Choir representing choral singers throughout the state who rehearsed during the conference and presented a Saturday performance in the Wentz.

“Attendees were very enamored with our campus and facilities, especially Wentz Concert Hall, and many were surprised to see the size and scope of our performance program,” says Ramona Wis, Mimi Rolland Professor in the Fine Arts, professor of music and chair of North Central’s music department. “The conductors and visiting musicians were impressed by the quality and preparedness of our choral ensembles and knew of our reputation for having a rigorous music education program.”

Explore the Sound featured North Central College’s Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Women’s Chorale—all conducted by Wis—and Cardinal Chorus conducted by Jacqueline Schutt. Faculty and student guest artists included Barbara Vanderwall and Jon Warfel, piano; Marie Bennett, flute; Tricia Wlazlo, oboe; Mitch Paliga, saxophone; Mara Gallagher and Katie Gallagher, violin; Chris Obert, percussion; and members of the North Central College Chamber Strings.

“Choral directors from throughout Illinois enjoyed listening to choirs in Wentz Concert Hall because the acoustics are as close to perfect as you can get for a choir,” says Beth Best, choral director at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora and past president of IL-ACDA. “There have been many directors in the last few years who applied and auditioned to bring their choirs so their singers can have that marvelous sound experience.”

Chamber SingersIn addition to Wentz Concert Hall, the two-day conference made use of other spaces in the Fine Arts Center as well as other performance venues on campus.

“The supporting spaces in the Fine Arts Center, such as the large and small rehearsal rooms, and Pfeiffer Hall make North Central an ideal location for hosting a conference like this,” Wis says. “We appreciate having multiple arts venues to utilize and showcase.”

Hosting the conference was an excellent opportunity for the College to build upon its reputation as a premier choice for prospective students considering studies in music, music education, jazz studies, musical theatre and other areas of study.

“We hope that bringing choral conductors and educators to campus to meet students and faculty and experience Explore the Sound helped paint a fuller picture of the opportunities we provide in any area of music,” Wis says. “Conductors and educators are a significant part of the college search process for high school and transfer students.”

North Central College offers majors in music, choral and instrumental music education and jazz studies. Students receive a strong liberal arts grounding and opportunities to perform in more than 20 instrumental and vocal groups, including large and small ensembles, opera, musical theatre and jazz combos. Students also perform on varied stages, from the expansive Wentz Concert Hall to intimate theatre settings.