RIO GRANDE — The University of Rio Grande’s vocal jazz ensemble, the Grande Chorale, will be performing its fall concert event titled “The Magic of Motown” at 8 p.m. Thursday in the university’s John Berry Fine and Performing Arts Center.
The event is free and open to the public.
URG’s director of choral activities, Dr. Sarin Williams, will be leading the ensemble with Barb White serving as the group’s pianist. Chelsea Wells will be on the percussion set. Williams generally picks a group of students numbering between 12 to 16 members. Members meet five hours a week with practices spread throughout the week.
According to Williams, the group typically sings more popular music at its fall concert and vocal jazz in its spring concert. The theme of this year’s concert was suggested by a student and will feature songs such as “Please, Mr. Postman,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “Dancing in the Street,” “I’ll be There,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and others from the era.
“I’d never thought about doing Motown.,” Williams said. “One of my students, Chloe Nared, suggested it and I thought it would be fun to look into. Motown is, of course, hugely popular. There are hundreds of pieces arranged. I read through a bunch of arrangements this summer and chose the ones we thought were quality.”
Williams estimates there to be around 15 songs to be sung during the show and the event to last around an hour.
“I think the audience will probably know three quarters of what we’ll sing,” Williams said. “I try to keep the ensemble smaller than 16 (individuals). To do vocal jazz successfully, you cannot get bigger than 16. The harmonies are too close. Most of our members are music majors. We have three non-music majors.”
According to the director, the group performs at community events both in and out of state. Her fifth year at teaching at the university, Williams said she might consider taking the ensemble to vocal jazz competitions in the summer as she is confident they are reaching a skill that would allow them to shine above their peers.
The group currently numbers at 13 members. Those included in the group are Mandy Adkins, Camille Beverly, Racquel Sims, Kristen Saber, Brooke Wolni, Jordan Lombardo, Matthew Rinehart, Jeff James, Chloe Nared, Allyson Waddell, Rachel Hart, Kyle Fannin and Michael Corbin. Nine are returning members while the others are first-year members.
“It’s a fun group,” Williams said. “We have a lot of prep time and work hard.”
Dean Wright can be contacted at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.