The results are posted. Students rush home to their computers after the last choir concert of the year. They tune into Choir Director Ken Foley’s web-backpack. The results determine whether or not they will have a coveted spot in the Chamber choir – the highest choir at SM East which consists of 24 members: 12 males and 12 females.
“When I first opened up the website, I was 100 percent sure that I would not be on the list,” freshman Rob Simpson said. “I just wanted to see if any of my friends made it, or if any juniors I knew made it. I saw my name and I started to cry. And I don’t cry.”
Simpson was the first freshman in four years to make the Chamber Choir.
“It’s not unprecedented, but this is the first time I’ve had [a sophomore]. I assumed that it would happen in some point,“ Foley said.
This is Simpson’s first year in choir and he did not expect to make it, but was instead thinking of it as a dry run for his audition next year.
There were 28 auditions for 11 male spots and 49 auditions for eight female spots. The process of auditioning consists of pitch matching and memory exercises. Foley says that site reading is a large part of the audition because the Chamber singers learn music so quickly.
Simpson describes his audition as a good, but nerve-wracking experience.
“Afterwards I felt like I did really well, but as a freshman I felt like there was no chance, considering all the talented people at this school,” Simpson said.
In the past Foley has chosen primarily upperclassmen to be a part of the Chamber Choir because of their experience. This year, Foley decided to make an exception because he felt that Simpson had the dedication and talent needed.
“He is a very strong musician and a great site reader,” Foley said. “He is a cellist so he reads music well and he comes from a very musical family. He is just a terrific singer.”
Simpson’s dad is a professor of Music Theory at UMKC and introduced him to the cello when he was young. Simpson said that has helped him because he’s been able to read music well.
“It’s going to be intimidating,” Simpson said. “I feel that everyone is going to be better and older than me. Choir is like a big family, but I think I will feel like I need to do everything perfectly to match up with them.”
Junior Kurt Jenson, however, doesn’t think that having a younger member will affect the Chambers atmosphere.
“I mean Chambers is what it is — it is always a great group of people,” Jenson said. “He’ll probably be a bit shy at first, being the only sophomore, but it should be a ton of fun.
Simpson is looking forward to being with an older group of students and sharing his talent.
“I’m just really excited,” Simpson said. “It’s going to be awesome.”