First-year students in Augie choir after seven year break

It’s been seven years since Augustana’s top choir, Augustana Choir, has included first-year students in the mix.
This year, with the departure of, Aaron Humble, who directed the Wennerberg ensemble last academic year, the choral faculty decided to change things up. They removed the Cantilena Augustana ensemble and the Wennerberg Men’s Chorus, which were the two ensembles that freshman were typically placed into.
“This is a direct result of a change of staffing,” says Dr. Jon Hurty, director of Augustana Choir. “Right now the changes are only this year, we haven’t decided if we’re going to continue that. We are kind of in an exploratory process to figure out what the best thing to do is”.
The change in staffing also pushed the audition process to the fall, as opposed to Spring, which is when auditions would typically be held. Since they would not have a set roster in the spring, the faculty thought that it would be best to allow first year students into all ensembles, including Augustana Choir and Jenny Lind.
The audition process includes being scored on basic vocal exercises, tonal memory, sight reading and singing a familiar song.  This takes place in front of all of the choral faculty members so that the student can be accurately placed in the right choir.
One of the first-years that was placed in Augustana Choir, Cami Meyers, stated that being in the school’s top choir is “. . .really humbling, but also really cool.”
“ (My) choir director went [to Augustana],” says Meyers, “so being in the top group is  really awesome, especially to be able to tell him ‘Hey, it paid off!’.
Nevertheless, being a part of a high level ensemble at any time in one’s life can be scary, but for a first-year student it can seem pretty unreal.
“It’s really cool and also kind of scary,” Meyers explains. “It’s a lot of pressure to be good, but it’s awesome and they’re all so nice.”
Since Augustana Choir is the top vocal ensemble, there are certain characteristics that Dr. Hurty and his associates are looking for.
Hurty said that the music faculty would look for students who score the highest on reading skills and tonal memory skills.  They also look for voice parts that they are currently lacking in the ensemble. The schedule of students can also impact their placement.As for next year, it is still not decided whether freshmen will continue to be placed in Augustana Choir. With the changes made to the choirs this year, Dr. Hurty explained that the choral faculty will be monitoring the success of this arrangement of the ensembles. They will then decide whether or not to go back to their original setup, keep the current one, or even create something different all together.