If you walked down to Skoglund on Sunday, Nov. 5, you would have seen hundreds of students from St. Olaf and several high school choirs walking around in their choir robes, clutching several pieces of newly learned music. You may have heard a wall of beautiful choral music beginning at 1:40 p.m. when rehearsals began, and again at 4 p.m. when the performance started. This event is known as Choral Day, a day filled with music, choir and community. It’s a day where Viking Chorus, Manitou Singers, Chapel Choir and the St. Olaf Choir join several high school choirs to put on a massive performance.
Lukas Jaeger ’20 describes it as, “A lot like the All-State and/or State Honors Choir performances (or other regional equivalents).”
“For me,” Jaeger said, “It was very refreshing in that way. A very exciting performance where all the choirs get to sort of show off what they’ve done so far and, in a way, where they are headed.”
While this day has come to be a tradition for the St. Olaf choir program, many involved in choir find it to be a stressful day rather than an enjoyable one.
Sally Olmstead ’20 says, “I’ve participated in Choral Day once before, and my overall experience with it was positive. It’s a great opportunity for high school singers to see what choir is like at St. Olaf. I enjoyed hearing their choirs sing, and it was [nice] meeting and interacting with some of the kids.”
However, Olmstead also is one of the many Oles who competed in the NATS (National Association of Teachers Singing) competition all day Friday and Saturday, making her weekend full of singing and taxing both vocally and academically. Despite this, Olmstead was, “Mostly looking forward to this weekend of singing; I think it’ll be a great time, even if it does put me a bit behind on homework.”
What this event really does is give the high school students the opportunity to sing with St. Olaf choral ensembles, and shows them what a future in choir could be like.
Emily Hynes ’18 explains, “I know of a couple people who came to St. Olaf because of their high school experience with Choral Day. If I keep that in mind, it’s easier to try and have fun during the day. When I think about the other people who benefit from it, it makes it feel more worth it; when I think about my own to-do list, though, it can be hard to find a way to enjoy it. That being said, there are songs sometimes that are deeply moving and it feels good to share their message with the audience. It’s also nostalgic and fun to see the selected high school choirs that get to perform during the concert.”
As a member of Chapel Choir, walking into Choral Day I was – like Hynes – remembering the homework I had to finish, or the books I had to read or the laundry I had to do. But, when several hundred singers ages 14-22 began singing, nothing else compared. Hearing the high school choirs perform songs I sang a few years ago in my own high school choir made any stress seem non-existent.
In one of our choir rehearsals last week, Mark Stover, the conductor of Chapel Choir, talked about Choral Day being about giving back to the community as a group of musicians. We get so much out of this program, and demonstrating the wonder of the St. Olaf choral program is the least we can give for all it has given us.