The Keuka College music program is on the move.
Kelley Hamilton, music instructor and director of the Chorale, is starting a select choir that will perform at on-campus events and alumni gatherings, and travel for student recruitment.
“It will be a polished, professional group that will showcase the College and give students a high-quality music experience,” said Hamilton,
Hamilton, who has performed with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and other well-known groups, says the spring semester will also bring the formation of a jazz band, private instrumental lessons, and a concert with the Chinese Choral Society of Rochester.
In this interview with Doug Lippincott, executive director of communications and host of Keuka College Today on WFLR (Dundee), Hamilton discusses these initiatives and others, the increased interest in music among students, in particular athletes, and the future of the program.
With Keuka College’s fall Chorale and Band concert in the books, Kelley Hamilton, music instructor and director of the Chorale, has her sights set on the future of the music program.
And the future starts during the spring 2014 semester, when Hamilton will hold auditions for students who want to join a select choir.
Hamilton envisions the select choir performing at on-campus events, alumni gatherings, and traveling for student recruitment.
“It will be a polished, professional group that will showcase the College and give Keuka students a high-quality music experience,” said Hamilton, who plans to have the choir accompanied by live instrumentalists.
Hamilton, who has performed with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and other well-known groups, “likes to sing a lot of different genres, and I want to incorporate those genres into the choir.”
With that variety in mind, Hamilton anticipates the choir will sing “mostly pop, R&B, jazz, and Broadway, as well as present some a cappella pieces.”
Chorale member Jakiem Brown ’15, an educational studies major from Rochester, would seem to be a logical candidate for the select choir.
“Many of my best singers and musicians are athletes, and Jakiem is a member of both the men’s volleyball and tennis teams,” said Hamilton. “He plays the saxophone and ukulele, sings, and beat-boxes. He performed a solo during the concert, and is just a great kid who is hungry for more.”
Another athlete who would seem to a logical select choir candidate is Stephanie Havens ’14. The adolescent English major from Unadilla is a forward/midfielder for the women’s soccer team, and has been “singing and playing the trumpet for a long time.
“I liked that I could join Chorale or Band and have private voice lessons,” said Havens. “There is a Mozart piece I am working on that I am excited about, but is nothing I’d have ever considered if not for the voice lessons. I am not afraid to get up and sing in front of people anymore.”
As the select choir works through its formative stages, the popularity of the Chorale is growing, as evidenced by Kelsea Flynn ’17, a psychology major from Penn Yan. She sang a duet at the concert and “is excited to participate in Chorale next semester.”
“There are a lot of new students registered for Chorale next semester, and I’m excited,” said Hamilton. “There will be some challenges, though. I have several Chinese students registered, and a lot of students can’t read music. But, I hope to incorporate more popular songs into the concerts, and to one day partner with the Arion Players Drama Club and perform a musical.”
Next semester will also bring the formation of a jazz band, private instrumental lessons, and a possible concert with the Chinese Choral Society of Rochester.
“There are many Chinese students in the Keuka College Chorale and I wanted to find an authentic experience for them,” said Hamilton.
Also on tap for next semester will be new music opportunities in the classroom. Hamilton will teach a class on American Music Traditions, which will explore the history of American popular and classical music, including colonial folk music, blues, jazz, Broadway, rap, and hip hop, among others.
Added Hamilton: “One of the things I hope to do is partner with [Assistant Professor of Art] Melissa Newcomb’s students in her digital photography class and have them design album covers for my students.”
Works by Mozart, Rhianna, Van Morrison, and Leonard Bernstein will be among those performed by the Keuka College Chorale and Band at their annual winter concert Sunday, Nov. 17.
The performance, free and open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. in Norton Chapel.
Under the direction of Kelley Hamilton, music instructor and director of the chorale, and David Hamilton, adjunct instructor and director of band, the program features a “prism style of music, which means the chorale and band will perform continuously as the concert goes on,” said Kelley Hamilton.
The chorale and band will perform a wide variety of selections, including Hashivenu, a Hebrew folk song; Johnny has Gone for a Soldier, an Irish folk song; Overture from the Magic Flute, by Mozart; Moondance, by Van Morrison; Stay, by Rhianna; Gone and Cups Mash-up, by Anna Kendrick and Phil Phillips; Rhythm of Love, by the Plain White T’s; Please Come Home for Christmas, by Charles Brown; Jubilate Deo, by Jay Althouse; and selections from the musicals Jekyll and Hyde, Wicked, and West Side Story.
The grand finale will be Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, performed by both the chorale and band. Members of the audience are welcome to participate.
Several soloists will featured, including Ariel Scott, a senior organizational communication major from Unadilla; Jonathan Moore, a sophomore political science/history major from Nichols; Trevor Irby, a sophomore exploratory major from Romulus; Ian Wentzel, a junior criminology/criminal justice major from Naples; Arek Olson, a sophomore management major from Wellsville; and Chung “Johnny” Nguyen, a senior management major from Hanoi, Vietnam.
“While the chorale and band are small groups, the students are eager and ready to go, and I think we have an ambitious program,” said Kelley Hamilton. “There are only a few students in the band, so they really have to take ownership of their music and their parts. I am excited for this concert because the students are excited.”
According to Kelley Hamilton, future plans for the music program include “having select vocal and instrumental groups, with eight to 10 students each, which could perform at College events.”
While the concert is free, donations will be accepted for purchase of new music, instruments, and other items needed for the advancement of the music program.
The Keuka College Symphonic Band will present its annual fall concert Tuesday, Nov. 9.
The concert, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in Norton Chapel.
Under the direction of Jeff Stempien, instructor of band, the concert program includes Washington Post and Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Philip Sousa; At The Speed of Lights, by Gary P. Gilroy; Heaven’s Light, by Steven Reineke; Toccata For Band, by Frank Erickson, and Disney Movie Magic, arranged by James Christensen.
The concert will also feature a clarinet solo by senior English major Trista Wesley on Nightfall, by John J. Morrissey.