The well-used pianos in several dorms, the Praise and Worship meetings at the church, the surprising number of student bands and the continual gatherings around the nearest guitar indicate that many University of Dallas students are musically inclined. For those seeking more formal instruction, the music department has been updating some of its programs, including the addition of a new choir.
Led by Brian Bentley, the choir meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in the new music room in Carpenter Hall. The choir already has around a dozen members, the majority of whom are freshmen, and has plans to make its debut singing at the Church of the Incarnation on Oct. 5. The choir sings mostly church music, but also has plans to take part in UD’s Brown Bag recitals, with a Victorian-themed Christmas performance in December.
The advent of the new choir comes with a change for the previous vocal group, Collegium Cantorum. Though it is no longer affiliated with the university, Collegium still practices and performs under the direction of Marilyn Walker, the founder of Collegium and former head of the music department. Walker was replaced last May as director by Kristen Van Cleve, who had served in the department since 2007 as director of chamber ensembles.
Despite its separation from the university, Collegium has continued to grow. The majority of past members returned this semester, and alumni as well as the siblings of past members joined the choir. They still sing at First Friday Mass at Cistercian Abbey and have already performed at an Ordination Mass with Bishop Farrell.
“Last semester it was tough when you had the demands of classes and were just tired and took it for granted, but now rehearsal is a part of my week that is certain to refresh me,” sophomore Isabel Dubert said.
Walker is continuing the choir she founded, and its members have the dedication and talent to continue to voice the sacred traditional music, which has become something of a rarity.
“Our music is not just music; it’s also a prayer,” Dubert said. One need only attend a service where it sings to realize that the choir gives not just a vocal performance, but an effort to advance a reverent atmosphere and an invitation to participate in a ceremony at which it sings.
The changes in the music department reflect an attempt to offer students the opportunities and resources to make music a part of their education. The department continues to offer a concentration, as well as classes and lessons on a variety of instruments. With the addition of the new choir, a new director, and new staff, the department seems to be growing in an attempt to further the practice and appreciation of music around campus and fill any void left by the departure of Collegium.