EACs Fall Sing 2014 Music of the World
By Lori Dugan
EVENT: Fall Sing 2014: Music of the World
DATES: Thursday, Friday & Saturday —October 23, 24 & 25, 2014
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $5.00 (Reserved seating & general admission)
OUTLET: EAC Ticket Office 428-8228
SPONSOR: Eastern Arizona College Choirs THATCHER, AZ—It’s 7:30 p.m., show time! The houselights dim; the audience hushes with anticipation; the singers take their places; and the curtain rises on EAC’s Fall Sing: Music of the World. For more than a century, literally thousands of singers have taken their places in turn to share their song, and their lives, with Gila Valley audiences.
Among the ninety-one performers in Fall Sing 2014, three students will take the director’s podium to conduct. Travis Lunt (Duncan) directs a tune with Men’s Chorus; Women’s Chorale is conducted in a piece by Tara Cluff (Safford), and Rylan Strum (Safford) is the student director for A Cappella Choir. “It is rare to have so many gifted student conductors at one time in a two-year school. They have directing skills you would expect from upperclassmen or grad students at a university,” said Dr. Bruce Bishop, director of EAC Choirs, as he reflected on Fall Sing. “Last November, I missed three weeks of school with a kidney stone during the critical preparation time for Handel’s Messiah. Travis and Rylan prepared the EAC and community choirs like veteran conductors.” When asked what that experience was like, Travis replied, “Conducting rehearsals for Messiah was an awesome experience. It’s such challenging music, and there’s such a long tradition of excellence at EAC.”
Tara, who works part time as choir secretary in addition to her studies in music, prepared the Messiah program, seating charts for 135 singers and rehearsal materials so completely that when Dr. Bishop returned, all was ready for the performance. “Without Tara, Rylan and Travis Messiah would not have happened. Their work was so outstanding, that the music was as precise and well-prepared as any Messiah performance.”
Reflecting on his experience as student director in A Cappella Choir, Rylan said, “Working with Dr. Bishop is great. He is fantastic at what he does and has so much heart invested in our success. He’s a great friend and mentor.” With a laugh he added, “I hope I get A’s in all his classes.” Tara added, “I have conducted a few choirs in my life, but being selected as a student conductor at EAC has allowed me to develop new directing skills as well as improve on some old ones.” She conducts Women’s Chorale in Hotoru Koi, a whimsical Japanese folk song about fireflies. “This song is so much fun for me. I fell in love with it from the first time I heard it.” Talking about conducting, Travis said, “One of the fun things about Men’s Chorus is that they’re just a bunch of regular guys who are willing to try almost anything you ask them. When we come together to sing, something special happens.” He leads the men in an arrangement of an African chant called Tshotscholoza, which as Travis points out, “Is in Zulu and Ndebele African dialects. It is a call and response song which showcases the talents of Men’s Chorus.”
Rylan begins daily A Cappella Choir rehearsals with rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic exercises to refine musical, aural, and thinking skills. When asked about his role, he replied, “It’s amazing how much the conductor influences the sound of the choir. It is more than just tempo and dynamics. You move a song from simple notes to music that inspires. Music has changed me.” This Safford High School graduate will conduct A Cappella Choir in an exciting setting of Home on the Range.
“These three have had huge impact on the success of the choirs during the past couple of years,” said Bishop. “But beyond Tara, Rylan, and Travis, I’m surrounded by students who walk through the choir room doors every day, ready to pour their heart into music. Magic happens in the (EAC) choir room.” Fall Sing 2014: Music of the World will feature music in many languages from many countries. Welsh, Scottish, Zulu, Japanese, Tamil, Castellón Spanish, Italian, English, and even American will ring out in a tapestry of music from cultures around the world.
All are invited to Eastern Arizona College Choirs Fall Sing 2014: Music of the World on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 23, 24, and 25. Each show begins at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $5 per person and are available at the EAC Ticket Office at 928-428-8228 and at the door. Audience members can reserve seats down front, or choose general admission in the rear section of the auditorium. Celebrate the tradition of singing at Eastern Arizona College more than a century in the making: Fall Sing 2014: Music of the World!