Men's Choir

A historic event happened in the music department this past week. The roof shook from an overload of applause, the women inspired and the men conquered.  Oct. 20 was the very first performance of the UTSA Men’s Chorus that just started this fall. This is a group that has been anxiously awaited for, and already has shown off many angles of its talent.
There was a full house in the Recital Hall, ranging from students to proud parents. We all witnessed a three part concert: the Women’s Choir, the Men’s Chorus and finally a song sung by both groups which brought everyone out of their seats for a standing ovation at the end of the night.

The ladies started it off with a powerful rendition of Our Father and continued through their six up-lifting songs with utter elegance.  They sang of God and angels in French, English, German and Russian with unison and grace. Throughout the concert individuals stepped out of formation on the bleachers to the front to sing a solo. The choir would split to let them by, then reunite in structure and in voice as their dresses swayed back and forth.

It was obvious these girls love what they do because I had goose bumps after hearing Taylor Vollmer’s solo. Vollmer especially got into the music and sang it from her heart with everything she had, leaving the audience blown away and ample applause.  This performance was just a warm-up for the Women’s Choir. Their real performance was at the Texas Collegiate Women’s Choir Festival held on, Oct. 24 and an upcoming Women’s Alumni Choir for yesterday and today’s choir members, coming up in March.

     Professor Gary Mabry showed great pride in his 39 girls. “We move pretty quickly, we do some pretty challenging music and if you just came in without any experience and vocal training it would be difficult to keep up,” Mabry said.

     He explained how they are a select group of talented girls that went through a tough audition process.  “ encourage them to take a voice class for at least a semester and then come and try out,” Mabry said.

 But the fact that the very first Men’s Chorus at UTSA was at the same performance, made him very eager to talk about the guys.  Dr. Mabry has put a lot of work into his “men” and they all are equally appreciative of it. Collin Varville, a Men’s Chorus member said “Dr. Mabry allowed me to sing. He said to sing with lust in my voice and it just came out.”

  Varville went on to actually give me a sample of his “lustful” singing, obviously proud of the skills Dr. Mabry has given him. Everyone around giggled at his burst of opera.

An exciting difference from most men’s singing groups and our one-of-a-kind UTSA Men’s Chorus is the wardrobe. The “cool new shirts” as Mabry described really show exactly what this group of talented young men are about.

“It’s formal enough, but it’s uniform. It kind of says what we want to say; we like to have fun,” Mabry said.

They walked on stage with their new blue and orange uniforms and waited for their conductor, Mabry, to do his speedy wardrobe change. The audience roared with applause and appreciation for the men as well as Mabry when he entered the stage with matching attire. 

The chorus sang their first song, “Rex caeli Domine”, completely acoustic except for one note by the piano, showing off their broad vocal range.  But once the first song finished, they quickly leaped into upbeat songs.

Their performance was a travel through time and culture with a little bit of humor to tie it all together. 

In “De Animals a-Comin” a rendition of Noah’s ark, the guys had to put their sheet music t, down to be able to get into it with full body movement as necessary.

Greg Griffin, vocal major and Men’s Chorus member played an active role in this unique song. He said, “This was one of the most fun songs we did, it was really enjoyable.” 

The performance definitely put a good first impression on the Men’s Chorus and had the audience wanting more.  Although the next scheduled show isn’t until next semester, they are planning on caroling at local events around campus as well as the community. But the UTSA Men’s chorus won’t stop there.

“I’m going to teach [the men] the Star Spangled Banner in hopes that at some point we can sing at a hockey game or a Spurs game,”Mabry said.

That alone is enough to brag about, but Dr. Mabry has much higher intentions for these young men.  He went on to say, “We’re going to sing the Nation Anthem at the first [UTSA] football game, that’s our goal; Well that’s my goal anyway.”

This group of talented singers didn’t start off so pleasant.

 “We have some music majors, but most of them are guitar majors, and we have a number of men who are not music majors at all,” Mabry said.        

                                                    
“This group did not require an audition, so I told the men that I recruited this summer that I would teach them from scratch.”

But the lack of experience didn’t set the group back a bit.     

It only made those that hadn’t had experience before, have a “real hunger and thirst for knowledge,” and allowed the students to sing in ways they never thought they would.

Many students that joined the class just for the required credit said they would very willingly take it next year and encourage everyone else to try it out as well. Mabry wants this group to not just look like the music department but would like it to look like the campus. The lack of an audition encourages people from all fields of study to come out and give their vocals a try. The class is a one hour credit on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., and the best part: absolutely no homework! Mabry hopes to get up to one hundred men in his chorus to represent the UTSA spirit.

“I want to put it out there is big bold letters,” Mabry said with much enthusiasm “we want men who love to sing. We’ll train on the job.”     

He is pumped for this new organization on campus and is looking for any men that just simply love to sing and wouldn’t mind being part of a historic group at UTSA, the Men’s Chorus.
 

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