Fall Term Music Ensembles Available for Everyone

Monday, July 19, 2021

No matter your program, no matter your year, anyone can participate in music ensembles at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo! Joining an ensemble is an ideal way for any student to keep music in their lives, especially those who are studying another subject and are craving musical opportunities. Music provides opportunities to develop skills and grow, to form lasting bonds through community, and to heal the mind and improve mental wellness by relieving the stresses of intense study.

“For me, music has been a way to connect and form friendships with many different people,” said Tessa, a second-year student involved in the Chamber and Chapel choirs. “It is also a way for me to express myself, and playing instruments or singing helps me to de-stress.”

At Grebel, there is an ensemble for everyone, depending on the musical interests and abilities. In fall 2021, most of the department’s ensembles are planning to return to in-person rehearsals with safety in mind and health protocols in place. For those who like to sing, the department will offer three ensembles, the Chamber Choir, Chapel Choir and a Vocal Techniques Ensemble.  The University Choir will return as an offering in Winter term of 2022.  Chapel Choir focuses on hymns, worship songs, and other styles of sacred music. Chamber Choir is a 24-person voice ensemble that offers ways to engage with and learn a wide range of repertoire. Vocal Techniques is presented in a lab format and will be offered online over Zoom in Fall 2021. It teaches the foundations of singing, vocal theory and techniques, and allows students to sing using their learned skills.

“The music department is excited to be coming back to in-person music making after about 18 months of rehearsing and performing virtually,” said professor Mark Vuorinen, Director of the Chamber Choir and Chair of the Music Department.  “Our rehearsal process may look a little different than it did before the pandemic, so that students and faculty can remain safe, but being able to create music together again after so long will be wonderful.”

Instrumental ensembles include the Jazz Ensemble, Balinese Gamelan, Instrumental Chamber Ensembles (ICE), and orchestra@uwaterloo.  The Jazz Ensemble features instruction if a variety of Jazz styles, for a rhythm section, brass and winds.  The Balinese Gamelan provides participants the opportunity to perform with guest musicians and dancers during concerts, while learning how to play Balinese percussion instruments.  ICE Ensembles perform a wide variety of classical music from all time periods in small groups of 3 to 8 musicians, based on ability. And orchestra@uwaterloo is a large, 60- 70 person group of faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni in addition to undergraduate students, and includes members across academic faculties, especially Math and Engineering.

Both students and ensemble directors are looking forward to in person music.

“I think that all of us have learned enormously from the process of playing chamber music online: instructors as much as students! I’m really glad for the opportunity to stretch my knowledge, but I’m very much ready to get back to working in-person. The art of chamber music is a social one and, while no two groups function identically, fundamentally, the act of playing chamber music together really is about sharing a little bit of yourself with your fellow players and with an audience. Without being together in one space, there is something missing from this process and I for one can’t wait until we can return to being fully immersed in the chamber music process.”  Ben Bolt-Martin, ICE director

Each ensemble consists of regular group practices and performances, and as long as participants regularly attend, the ensemble may be taken for credit without an assigned grade. Depending on the ensemble they choose to join, interested individuals must sign up for an audition or interviews. With so many options to choose from, all students can enjoy a fun way to fill their lives with the joy and benefits of music.

Playing music is a great way to take a break from courses and other stressful commitments,” said Lila Huang, a fourth-year student involved in the Orchestra and Instrumental Chamber Ensembles. “Taking some time each week to shift our focus to a different field that’s also meaningful to us helps us meet new people who share this common interest in music, de-stress, and become more well-rounded.”

The Music Department looks forward to seeing many students join in person Ensembles in Fall Term 2021.  See our website for the list and audition information:   Link to Fall 2021 Ensembles

Written by Jace Jaeden Ellis