The St. Olaf College Viking Chorus is bringing messages of hope to a choral symposium in Michigan.
Viking Chorus, a choral ensemble of more than 60 first-year student men led by Conductor Mark Stover ’01, will be a featured ensemble at the University of Michigan Ambassadors of Song International Male Chorus Symposium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
There they will be performing, along with other inspiring works, Jake Runestad’s Please Stay, a powerful piece that was composed using words adapted from tweets using #IKeptLiving — expressions of hope from those who battled depression and chose to live.
Before they leave, Viking Chorus will host an open rehearsal on November 9 at 5:15 p.m. in Boe Chapel. It will be free and open to the public.
Viking Chorus has been organized to sing the highest quality literature, and the ensemble performs a program of music that includes motets, cantata movements, and anthems, as well as contemporary choral pieces, spirituals, folksongs, and music traditionally associated with men’s singing groups.
Eugene Rogers, the director of the Men’s Glee Club at the University of Michigan, invited Viking Chorus to be a featured ensemble at the Ambassador of Song International Male Chorus Symposium after being inspired by their music during a performance of the St. Olaf Christmas Festival at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis last March.
“I was really touched by his invitation because he specifically mentioned the spirit of the singing, the heart behind the singing,” Stover says. “He talked about how listening to Viking Chorus never felt self-serving. It always felt like, for him, the men singing were doing so to serve others and it inspired him in that way.”
Stover experienced this spirit firsthand as a student at St. Olaf, and returned to help build the commitment to artistic excellence and to one another as a community.
“Looking back, I see the absolute privilege it was to be a part of that ensemble, because it didn’t just serve me during that first year as an initial first family on campus, but the relationships I formed in Viking Chorus have been part of my whole life since then,” Stover says.
He’s excited to showcase the talent of Viking Chorus at the symposium in Michigan, which will attract ensembles and musicians from around the world.
“Our hope is that the same spirit that inspired the invitation to bring us to Michigan is what we will represent when we are there in November,” Stover says. “It’s an opportunity to represent the college in a way that we hope makes the college proud of how we can be an ambassador — to serve through the arts and share a message of faith and hope, and inspire people in their lives to be a light.”