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Reflections of Choir Alums

Click on the pictures below to read or see what past Concert Choir members want you to know about the organization.

Taylor Cox

Taylor Cox

I have always been a choir kid. Since my elementary school years, I have been a member of multiple singing groups associated with school and church. I didn’t want my college years to be any different. When I first started visiting the University of Charleston campus for Maroon and Gold Days, I really developed an interest in the University Singers, the smaller group from the choir that sings at different events for the school. Once I auditioned and joined both the Concert Choir and University Singers, I felt more confident about coming to UC for my undergraduate career. If nothing else, at least I would find a group of people with the same interest as me—music. After I got here, I realized that it would be much more than that. I have met a few of my best friends in that choir room. I know that I will always have a connection with them, and choir is where it all started.

After my undergraduate requirements were complete, I applied to the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. I started as a first year student this fall. That doesn’t mean that I am no longer singing, though. The pharmacy school, Dr. Janisch, and I have worked hard to come up with a schedule for me to continue to sing with both choirs at the University. As a student at the School of Pharmacy, I continue to receive a vocal scholarship. Even though it takes some time and effort, it is worth it. Everyone needs a creative outlet; mine is choir. Thanks to Dr. Janisch and the School of Pharmacy, I still get to do what I enjoy.

Taylor Cox, choir member 2011---

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Elizabeth Gavin Mylnar

Elizabeth Garvin Mylnar

ElizabethMy name is Elizabeth Mylnar (Garvin), an alumna of University of Charleston class of 2009. This is the story of how the University of Charleston Concert Choir made an impact on my life.

I was looking for a school that offered a degree in Interior Design, classes in Vocal Music and athletic running teams, UC provided these opportunities for me. These three things allowed me to become active at the University and its many organizations. Two organizations stood out among all the rest, they were the University Singers and UC Concert Choir. During class registration each year, I made sure those two classes were on my list- even if it meant changing my schedule completely to fit those two courses(groups) into my schedule. Then in my Junior and Senior years, I got more involved with the groups and became the President of the choirs. This allowed me to become a leader and a more active member of these groups. I assisted with the planning of performances and home stays during our yearly choir tours, including trips to New York City, Washington, D.C. and to Florida to visit Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World.Elizabeth Mylnar  

Upon college graduation, I was recognized for my involvement. I received the UC Student Leader Pin and Most Distinguished Vocal Performer. Without my active involvement, I would not be the person I am today. The University of Charleston gave me hope and a future. Being a part of the choirs and the various organizations, have helped me grow into a strong leader and better individual. I continue to support the arts by being active in my local community, church, and school. The University Singers and Concert Choir are two vital groups within the UC community; I am so honored to have been a part of those groups.

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Calvin Munday

Calvin Munday

CalvinIf you had told me that I would one day be performing in a collegiate level choir I would have never believed you! The university Concert Choir was incredibly far from being on my radar until I became involved with Greek life at UC. Many of my fraternity brothers (and sorority sisters!) were involved with the Concert Choir and only had good things to say about their experiences, which naturally sparked my own interest. Despite my lack of any true experience singing, outside of church or just along with the radio, I found the nerve to approach Joe Janisch before rehearsal one afternoon with my intentions to try out! Initially, the biggest drive for me to become involved with the concert choir was a willingness to participate in something new and with my friends.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of joining choir was the ability to experience choir tour following the closure of each academic year. Taking a week-long vacation with many of my friends to different parts of the country was always a blast; be it in Chicago, Washington D.C. or simply Cheshire, Ohio! It was also very rewarding to see how far each musical piece had come throughout the year. There is something to be said about a group working together to drive a new performance from the ground up, to the point that it can - and will - emotionally move the audience to tears. Not to mention, the addition of another college credit that was participation based was always a nice boost to my cumulative GPA.Calvin  Munday  

Upon reflection the best part of having participated in choir is the many friendships and memories forged during my time with the program. I still keep in touch with friends from choir and reminisce about different things that happened while we were on tour (or even between rehearsals). It’s also inspirational to look back and realize I had the courage to try something completely new and took the time to put in the extra effort to get on par with my peers. Just knowing that I faced such a challenge with nothing but success is an excellent point for reflection whenever a new obstacle presents itself.

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Ryan Moran

Ryan Moran

RyanJoining the University Singers and Concert Choir was one of the best decisions that I made during my time at the University of Charleston. I joined the musical groups at UC because of my interest in vocal performance as well as the scholarship opportunity. After a few rehearsals, I realized that I had found a home within the UC campus. Throughout my time with the choir, I was enlightened by the world of music. I enjoyed singing an eclectic mix of genres, and I find myself grateful for learning music in numerous languages. In addition to singing, I also made lifelong friends with other members. I enjoyed visiting places like our nation’s capital, Chicago, and Pittsburgh during choir tour. As I have moved on to the next phase of my life, I remain appreciative for the chance to have been part of the music program at the University of Charleston. It certainly helped and is helping me live a life of enlightened living.

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Katrina Leaptrot

Katrina Leaptrot

KatrinaI became a member of the UC Concert Choir and University Singers because I loved singing choral music. I had never been a soloist, and preferred singing harmony to taking the lead. The very first week of rehearsal, Dr. Janisch asked me to try out for a solo in the Beatles’ song, “Yesterday.” I declined because I was too afraid of making a mistake. My preference of blending in with the crowd was not limited to choir, but fortunately this was not the only opportunity I had to become a leader.

The choirs performed several times each year at various venues and occasions, including the Christmas Gala, Spring Concert, guest performances at St. John’s United Methodist, UC Builder’s Luncheons, Spring Choir Tour, etc. Through rehearsals and performances, I developed as a singer by practicing proper technique, thinking critically to interpret lyrics, and learning the history and background of the pieces we performed. I also developed confidence, finding myself helping others in my section to find the right pitches and rhythms. In my junior year I was voted president of the choir and finally started singing the solos that had intimidated me in the past; even appearing in a news clip about the choir on local TV. My leadership experience in choir spread to my academic, political, and Greek organizations, and my accomplishments helped me to earn several awards, including Senior of the Year in 2011. Katrina  Leaptrot  

Even after graduation, choir continues to influence me. I have been living in Nashville, TN, while I attend graduate school, and I feel comfortable singing in the choir of any church I visit. I give voice and piano lessons, teach songs to the children at church, and instruct at summer music camps. Being a member of the choir at UC helped me to become less of an introvert and more of a leader. I highly recommend the experience to anyone who wants to be more involved or who loves to sing.

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Ramona Morris

Ramona Morris

RamonaAs I sit and look back on my collegiate experience, I can wholeheartedly say that joining UC’s concert choir was one of the best decisions I made my freshman year. I was thrust into this amazing group of people that quickly became my best friends and family. The lessons I learned in Keenan Hall have carried over into my career, and the memories I made are etched on my soul forever.

Sitting in the straight-backed chairs in Keenan Hall you will learn more than how to sing in a “round” voice. You will learn the value of hard work. You will learn the satisfaction of working an entire year for one “perfect” performance. You will learn there is ALWAYS room for improvement. You will learn to be a team, and how you are only as strong as your weakest member. Ramona  MorrisYou also learn that no one gets left behind. There is a place for everyone from the strongest soprano, to the most timid alto, and somewhere between the endless practices, constant do-over’s, mistakes, and performances you will realize you were having more fun than you’ve ever had in your life.  

It was in Keenan Hall that I met the women who became my sisters, the man who became my husband and father of my children, and the individuals that became my lifeline. Dr. Janisch, Janet and the rest of the choir was my support system through college, and even afterwards they are still around when I need a shoulder to lean on.

If you are going to join one group at UC, I would beg you to give concert choir a chance. You will have the time of your life, and will learn valuable lessons that you can carry with you after you don that cap and gown and go out into the real world.

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Caleb Lucas

Caleb Lucas

CaelbMy name is Caleb Lucas, a physician assistant, who is currently working in hospital medicine at a tertiary medical center. I attended the University of Charleston from the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2009. Because I have always enjoyed singing and I wanted to expand my musical horizons, I decided to join the UC choir in my sophomore year. There were many benefits to being a member of the choir. I had a stressful schedule of PA school prerequisites, and singing provided a much needed means of releasing stress. Having already had a musical background in high school, I knew how to read music, and being a part of the choir allowed me to expand on my general knowledge of music. Another great benefit of being in the UC choir was going on the choir tour at the end of the spring semester. Each year, the choir goes on a performance tour of different areas of the US. My trip included Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. This was one of the highlights of my collegiate career.

Being in the UC choir has benefited my career in medicine. In the UC choir, I had to learn to work with a diverse group of individuals.Caelb I now work in a field that requires working with a variety of different types of people, and the UC choir has prepared me to do so. Also, the medical field can be very stressful at times and being a member of the choir has allowed me a greater appreciation of music, which I continue to use to unwind after a long shift.

If you are a student who is looking for something different to change up your monotonous class schedule, and you can carry a tune, I would urge you to join the UC choir. It was one of the best experiences of my education that has also helped my career and life in general. I believe you will find it a benefit as well in your collegiate and future professional careers.

Caleb Lucas MSPA, PA-C

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Fallon Fisher

Fallon Fisher

FallonI joined concert choir at UC during my freshman year. (2004) It was a “no brainer” for me to audition since I have always loved to sing. I went into it not knowing many people, if any at all, and came out of the experience with some great stories to share. I also met some amazing people along the way, many whom I now call my best friends!

Singing is a big part of my life, and it always has been. I grew up singing in church, and continued throughout high school. It’s hard to describe, but it brings a peaceful feeling over me. When I sing, I feel like I can be myself. The concert choir helped me to gain confidence. During my time spent as a member of the group, I learned how to build character that I now use in my everyday life. Without all of the wonderful confidence and character I’ve gained, I may have never been able to conquer some of the obstacles that come my way. This includes being able to sing at various places and events, such as the Power baseball games.

Throughout my years at UC, I would have to say that Concert Choir, and eventually University Singers, became my favorite classes. I learned so much about my voice and so many new songs; I met some amazing people, and I could go on forever! I have gained skills from singing in a small group, with a large group, and even as a soloist. Fallon  FisherAll the practices to make that perfect sound were beyond worth it. Not only do you practice vigorously for concerts throughout the year, you’re also practicing to make your spring tour sound amazing! Spring tour is certainly the highlight for many people in the choirs. Choir tour brings the gift of music to people around the country and as an added bonus it is highly likely that when you go on tour, you may even visit some places that you’ve never been before.

If you were thinking about getting involved with something on campus, and you love to sing, I suggest you look into the Concert Choir. If you love it and want to explore your voice even more, look into the University Singers as well. They will become your support system, your home away from home, and some of the best friends you’ll ever have.

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