Article Originally Published by Raquel Villatoro on North Texas Daily
With a new director, the UNT Women’s Chorus hopes to encourage community, highlight different cultures and challenge singers this semester.
Kari Adams started directing the Women’s Chorus in the fall 2019 semester. The choir consists of 100 singers of different experience levels, Adams said.
Adams teaches beginner level choir students in the ensemble through using the same warm-up exercises in rehearsals, Anastasia Nelson, a vocal performance and music education sophomore, said. Nelson has been involved in the choir for four semesters.
The choir has had rehearsals Monday through Thursday since classes began. Adams said she is focused on tone quality and making sure there is progression.
“Vocally I focus a lot on tone development, aligning vowels, placement tones, those kinds of things,” Adams said. “I also feel like it’s so important on ensemble singing that we’re focused on creating a community that’s supportive together.”
Adams said she challenges students with the amount of repertoire the choir does and in rehearsals through the exercises they do as a choir. She will consistently use the same exercises, which helps beginners catch on, Nelson said.
“Some of them, this is their first choral singing experience ever,” Adams said. “And so my goal is always to still provide a challenge for my students who have sung for a while and also students who are brand new to not feel lost.”
The choir is made up mainly of non-music majors, Phanarai Trakulwatanachai, a music education and music performance junior, said.
She has been involved with the Women’s Chorus for three years. As an aspiring educator, Trakulwatanachai said she feels she has learned from Adams.
“I get to see how Kari deals with performers who are not actual singers and who just wanted to do choir for fun,” Trakulwatanachai said. “But then we also get to still make this great sound even though they’re inexperienced.”
Adams’ goal of creating a community started in the fall. The choir consists of about 60 percent of people who returned and newcomers as well. The community she fosters helps new members feel welcomed, Nelson said.
“Something Kari emphasized a lot in the third semester was being open with the rest of the team members and choir members,” Nelson said. “Just being very friendly and when we entered the new semester and new people came in it was really easy to talk with people. She didn’t . . . feel like she had to ask us [to] try to be more inclusive, it just came naturally because of the environment she set up in the first semester.”
Adams said she aims to use mainly women composers. In the fall semester, the program focused on what it means to be a woman and included composers and writers such as poet Georgia Douglas Johnson. The choir’s theme for spring 2020 is resilience.
“I wanted to paint this idea of resilience as a human experience that we have,” Adams said. “I wanted to feature cultures that are different from ours, I wanted [especially] to feature nomadic cultures.”
For the upcoming program, Adams plans to use pieces from Croatia, Brazil and a Romani piece. She also plans to include a poem that was found inscribed in a Nazi concentration camp as the central piece.
“The text reads, ‘I believe the sun, even when it isn’t shining, I believe in love even when there is no one else, I believe in God even when he is silent,’”Adams said. “That’s serving as our central piece for this program looking up at resiliency.”
Nelson and Trakulwatanachai said they are excited for the new music because the concert in April will include movement. They said they both like Adams as a director.
“I’m really proud to be in Women’s Chorus,” Nelson said. “I think there’s not an ensemble quite like it at UNT and I feel like most of that is because of Kari. She’s a very special director. I feel very lucky that we have her.”
Featured Image: Members of the UNT Women’s Chorus go through vocal warm-ups at rehearsal on Jan. 15, 2020. The Women’s Chorus is working on a new program under director Kari Adams. Image by Paige Bruneman
Source: North Texas Daily