Monday, November 30, 2009

Penn State Behrend's Fall Choir Concert!

Please join us for our Fall Concert! Ticket and admission information is listed below.

The Penn State Behrend Concert Choir & Chamber Singers
Dr. Jason Bishop, conductor
Sung Hui Elberfeld, accompanist
Erik Meyer, organ

Saturday, December 5: 8pm
Smith Chapel, Penn State Behrend

Sunday, December 6: 4pm
St. Peter Cathedral, 230 W. 10th Street, Erie

$5 General Admission
$3 Faculty/Staff
Students receive 1 free ticket with ID.

Tickets are available at the Info Desk in the Student Activities Office, Reed Union Building, Penn State Behrend. Call 814-898-6242 for more information.

Note: seating is limited in the Smith Chapel. If you plan to attend the Saturday performance, you must have a ticket in advance!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My lovely choir members,

Over the course of the semester I have watched you grow so much; grow not only with music, but through life in general and as people. Recently, I've thought back to what choir means to me; what it means to me now and what it meant to me growing up. It's funny to me, because before I came to Behrend last Fall '08, I had been in a total of seven choirs growing up, and never once did I feel I completely fit in with everyone around me. In fact, I almost didn't join the choirs here at Behrend because of a fear that the same thing would continue to happen. Music and singing was always very important to me growing up, and I highly disliked that feeling; that feeling of not being able to connect with the other choir members around me. I was the girl who hardly talked to people in almost any of the choirs I was a part of. Not because I didn't want to, but because I felt so out of place. I would never wish that feeling on anyone, and I certainly hope that none of you feel that way. If you do, please, PLEASE contact me, Dr. Bishop, one of the other officers, or representatives.

When I joined concert and chamber choir here at Behrend last fall, I didn't talk to many people. To be honest, I was a bit shy at first. I made friends with one or two people, but for the most part, stuck to myself. By the end of the semester, I not only began to open up, but I started to really feel as if even though I wasn't that social, that I was fully a part of the choir. Last spring, that feeling began to grow, but it didn't come full blast for me until two weeks before the concert. I was severely sick in the hospital back home, and one day my mom came in to visit and told me I had mail. It was from Amanda, who's a Soprano and happens to be my roommate of one of my best friends. :) Inside was two cards, one from her, and one from the actual choir, who all signed a card wishing me to get better real soon. Honestly, I started to cry. It meant so much to me and always will for the rest of my life. I believe my exact words to my mom was, "I-I didn't realize how many of them actually cared about me..." It inspired me to fight even harder to get better not only for the sake of myself, my family/friends, and my future, but because I also wanted to be back here, with all of you, making wonderful and breathtaking music...I wanted to be with what became my musical family.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want everyone to know that nobody gets left behind in this choir. Everyone is an important and intricate asset. We cannot be a choir without any of you, because you all carry your own unique and thriving talent within you that this choir needs. Dr. Bishop, myself, the other officers and representatives care about you all so much. Your talent is overwhelming, and you certianly proved yourself in Harrisburg. Words can't express how proud I am of you all. Like I mentioned before, it's only uphill from here! :) I can thoroughly say how happy I was to further bond and get to know some of you that I hadn't known that well before, and I really hope we all can continue to grow and bond together. :)

Some of your representatives also have something they'd like to say to you:

Everyone has their own unique reasons for being in choir. For me, choir is a way to actually have 75 minutes to relax and enjoy something every day, but it has not always been this way. During my first semester in choir it was anything but relaxing. I constantly worried about who I was going to sit by, if I was going to sing the right notes, if someone was going to hear me and comment about it, etc., and last fall, for me, there was no defining moment when all those worries went away. Over the course of the semester I gradually stopped worrying about all that stuff and actually started to enjoy what we were doing, but this semester I believe I can pick a defining moment where we have all come together and started to actually enjoy choir, and that moment was the Harrisburg trip.

Not to say that before the Harrisburg trip there was an enormous problem, but instead I would say the word to use is no one was “clicking.” Rehearsals were extremely inconsistent. One rehearsal was excellent, the other not so excellent, but the problem has never been ability because we truly are an extremely talented group of individuals. Instead, nothing seemed to click. Maybe new members were still struggling to feel accepted, and maybe old members were still struggling to find ways to welcome in the new members effectively. However, the Harrisburg trip has solved this phenomenon. The choir bonded as a group and got to know each other so much better than we would have without a trip like this. I am extremely proud of how we bonded on the trip and I believe that these newly formed friendships are going to positively affect our music for the rest of the semester and hopefully into next semester as well!

It was great traveling with all of you and I look forward to the social events throughout the rest of the semester!
-Carl Aaron Sizer, Chamber Representative

I can personally say that i am very excited to be doing choir this semester. I have been singing in choir since elementary school and I am glad that I am able to continue my experience into college as well. Choir to me has always been a place were I can go and just have fun and create great friendships, that i may not have otherwise, if I weren't singing in choir. Now that were mid- way through our semester I feel that I have had the opportunity to meet and become friends with many different types of people, especially after the Harrisburg trip. Our choir has come a long way since the beginning of the semester and I know that when it's time for our concert we will be even better.
-Sam Burton, Soprano Representative

As a new member this semester of the Penn State Behrend Choir, I joined with an open mind. Not knowing what to expect on my first day, I was ecstatic to see how dedicated Dr. Bishop was and some members of the choir already. The first week in both Concert Choir and Chamber Singers we seemed to be on the ball. We had an excellent attitude and did some awesome work. Once the semester started to get harder and more grueling we started to fade behind the curtains and just be a good choir instead of the great choir I heard so much about before school even began. Our choir's have the potential to be wonderful. We all, every single person in the choir, have the means to make a wonderful choir. Not a fair choir, not a good choir, but a GREAT choir. Some people may feel more involved, or more dedicated than others or even just more capable of musical performance than others but we must realize we all picked being in choir for specific reason, to sing. Unfortunately I was not able to be on the Harrisburg trip which I apologize for, since I was very ill, but I heard awesome news about it. Our officers and reps were very proud at how well the choir performed and how much they enjoyed the bonding experience the trip gave them, and hearing that news made me so extremely happy. Although, I was disappointed I had to miss it. I'm so excited for the rest of the semester and the next semester to come. We have a lot to look forward to, and I'm so thrilled to share it with all of you. Let’s keep on the great work and remember what our President Sonia said in her letter to us, Carpe Muscicam!
-Danielle Dortenzo, Alto Representative

I want to start with the Harrisburg trip. I thought it went extremely well. I was a little nervous about the whole thing but it turned out to be a great time. We performed well and had a ton of fun. Choir so far has been I great experience. I didn't know what to expect when I signed up, I just knew I really wanted to sing and hoped that so did everyone else. I was right, everyone loves to sing. I came from a high school that had an extremely small choir with very few decent singers. The majority of my former choir thought that it was a blow off class. It has been an enjoyable experience singing with others that have a passion for making music and are good at doing it. I am more than happy with the semester so far.
-Zach Cathcart, Tenor Representative

Coming from a small high school in western Pennsylvania where athletics were the highest priority, I had always thought that chorus was a joke. People were forced into my high school's chorus because the study halls were too full. There was never anyone who WANTED to sing and make music. Choir at Sharpsville High School was the note plunking experience that Dr. Bishop always warns us about. My director was a man with no personality who looked like an older version of Peter Griffon waving a baton and going through the motions. Joining chamber singers in my first semester at Penn State Behrend completely changed that perception of what a chorus SHOULD be. The Penn State Behrend Chorus, to me, is an extremely challenging and rewarding experience. It brings a diverse group of people together to create something so extraordinarily beautiful. It still baffles me that a group of individuals can make such gorgeous music in such a short amount of time.
-Chris Chovan, Bass Representative

As you can see, they all believe in you just as much as myself, the other officers, and Dr. Bishop do. I want to also remind you all that we are not music majors, and look at us! Look at the amazing talent among us, and the beautiful music that we create! It's baffling to me at times, but nonetheless, THESE choirs, the Penn State Behrend Choirs, they represent what a REAL choir should be, and you should, I hope, all be so proud to be a part of that. Keep on singing, and keep on shining! :)

Special Announcements for this week:
*This Saturday is the YPC Erie Songfest in which all of you must attend. Further information will be given this week.
*If you are unable to attend the YPC Erie Songfest Event due to attending the Penn State VS Ohio State game, do not forget that you must attend and participate in two YPC rehearsals. If you have not yet done so, please contact Dr. Bishop ASAP for more info.
*If any of you are interested in blogging and would like to let the choir know anything, please contact me through facebook, my e-mail:, or in rehearsals, etc. We'd love, and I'm sure the choir would also love to hear what you have to say! :)

Until next time, I leave you with this, "Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

Your Publicity & Concert Manager,

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hello my wonderful and ridiculously talented choir members. Welcome to a new semester of music and our first of many blogs of the semester! I will hopefully be updating this weekly on Fridays. The blogs will consist of what happened in previous rehearsals, important events coming up in the future, etc. Before I continue on, some of you have come to me expressing that you aren’t much of a blogger and want to know if it’s mandatory. No, it’s not mandatory that you say something. I’m not going to track you down and throw lightening bolts at you! However, these blogs are very beneficial. This is a place to express your feelings, questions, views, concerns, comments, etc., you may have with choir. If you could spare 5-10 minutes to write a response, or contact me with feedback, it would be much appreciated.

It has now been a total of two weeks of rehearsal for both choirs, and I find myself more than impressed with the music we are creating. I’m proud to say that I am a part of both choirs and their achievements so far! I remember my first semester here, in fall ’08. A transfer student, and so far away from home, I confess my worry that things weren’t going to work out. Nonetheless, by the end of last spring ’09 I found myself to be a part of what has become my musical family. I look back to that first day of rehearsal, and it’s incredibly amazing at how far these choirs have come. My fellow sopranos, we used to be so scared to sing those super high notes, and now look at us! Already in the first rehearsal we have sung at the top of the staff! Altos, your gorgeous harmony never ceases to amaze me. We’d have no choir without you! Tenors, you all blend so wonderfully together and when I hear you sing I get the chills. And last, but certainly not least, basses. I think you complete this choir in more ways than one. Your powerful low notes are very impressive. The choir wouldn’t be complete with a conductor; Dr. Bishop. I mention him because he has to be one of the most brilliant choir directors I have ever had. If you’re ever in the audience of one of his concerts and really watch him conduct, you will see how passionate he is about music. Personally, he has helped me improve my classical singing voice and has shown me what a true choir should be, and hopefully, he’ll do the same for you! :)

Dr. Bishop mentioned something in rehearsal this week that I found most interesting; risk-taking. Do not be afraid to take risks! If you make a mistake, that’s ok! It is all part of learning to sight-read, listen, and learn. Nobody is perfect, and I make mistakes singing all the time. It takes practice, and even then sometimes we still make mistakes. I also want to take the time to mention that if any of you need any help with your music, I and the other officers are always here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

I’d like to also take a moment to acknowledge and congratulate our new choir representatives: Samantha Burton (Soprano)
Danielle Dortenzo (Alto)
Nathan Myers (Tenor)
Chris Choven (Bass)
Aaron Sizer (Chambers)

Special Announcements for this Week
· We will be holding elections for Tour & Event Manager at next Wednesday’s rehearsal. Please take the time this weekend to think about and consider who you think might be good for this position, and if you are interested, let it be known to the choir ASAP!
· If you are in Chambers only and have not yet done so, please e-mail me you class schedule ASAP at
· If I have not gotten a picture of you yet, please contact me ASAP! I don’t want to leave you out of the scrapbook.
· Also, just a reminder that there will be a Choir Social Event on September 18th. More information will be given as we get closer to the event. Keep your schedules clear! :)

Oh, and if you are able to find the time, please try to see Kevin in Chicago at the Erie Playhouse! Here are the Chicago dates! :)
Sept. 10-13, 16-20, 24-27
All shows at 7:30pm
$13 - Students
$21 - Adults

Stay tuned in for next week’s blog, because it will feature our seniors! :) Until then, I leave you with this: “Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.”

Much Love, Your Publicity & Concert Manager,
Emily :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Back From New York

For those following, you're obviously aware that we [the joint-community of choirs at Penn State Behrend] took a trip to New York City...

and WOW! it was the most fun some of us had ever enjoyed! Not only did we get to enjoy almost two solid days on our own in the Big Apple, but we met up with the Young People's Chorus of Erie as well. Their group consisted of most of the high school and middle school choruses and the meet-up was short. However, it marked the first time any of the college kids met up with members of YPC Erie (and vice versa) since the Northwest Songfest back in November.

Not long after converging with the YPC, the two choirs departed - wishing each other a farewell and to have an excellent night's rest. For the Young People's Chorus, the next day was filled with non-stop choral rehearsal action. As for us college students, we had to be awake by 6:45 a.m. in order to make it to the screening of the "Early Show" on CBS. Screaming and cheering filled the studio audio boards. Just as quickly as we arrived, the college choir was in small groups again, visiting what they could of NYC before meeting at Beacon High School at 2 for the night's big performance. (I, myself, went to the Museum of Natural History with a few friends to see the fossil exhibit).

That evening was spectacular. As verbose as I claim to be, I honestly wish I could describe what transpired. To each his own, and every choir came together [some 400 bodies] to produce a sound that filled the Church of St. Paul the Apostle with such beautiful sound that many had tears rolling down their cheeks. Even many of the college students left that church inspired by what they had seen the YPCs of Erie and New York pull off. (Even one song we've been rehearsing for months [we felt] had been trumped by the years of finesse that YPC NY had invested).

No one left empty handed, however. Whether it be a souvenier of material or metaphorical substance, every one grew from the experience. The only regret is that we couldn't stay longer to learn from one another for more than one night.

(pictures to come soon!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reflection on the past two weeks

How do you define choir in your own mind?  Maybe you've been involved in choir from your very first opportunity.  Maybe you've never been involved in choral activities before.  How do you see choir students?  

I was in Chorus and Vocal Ensemble in high school.  I saw all kinds of people walk through the doors and attend those classes - from the quiet, most secluded kids, to the most gregarious social butterflies.  Our choruses consisted of mathletes and athletes; football players, cheerleaders, wrestlers, and Thesbians.  The only problem with this combination of characters, is that often times our chorus consisted of individuals who were there for the "easy A."  Those few individuals were the ones who would hold us back - the ones who never really wanted to be there.  Sometimes, if we were lucky, they would have a change of heart and, in realizing the passion that the rest of us had, would be infected with the same passion and have a change in heart.

When I came to Behrend, I had read about choir in an email that you will probably get at least eight times, and probably only read maybe once (assuming that you are either already at Behrend, or planning on coming here).  I tried to decide whether or not to take the challenge that was laid out in front of me, and in thinking about high school, decided against it first semester.  I thought it was going to be just like it was in high school - a few divas, a few modestly dedicated, and enough people who didn't want to pull their own weight to slow everyone else down.

One semester sitting on the sidelines while everyone else was finding their niche was enough for me.  A friend convinced me to join choir - you meet great people, you get credit for the class, and you have fun being a part of something.  That was the platform upon which I made my decision.

Now, this is my third semester in Concert Choir, and my first semester in Chamber Singers.  You know what I see?  You know what I think about when I think about choral activities and choral students?

I see a group of dedicated individuals.  I think about the hours and hours of time that we spend each semester in and out of class, working tirelessly on our music with the hope that we might scrape the surface of perfection.  I think about the general philosophy that we have as Choirs at Penn State Behrend:  We strive for excellence - good is not good enough.  Greatness in one practice is almost always at the expense of the next, unless you develop the skill to pinpoint your own strengths and weaknesses within the piece.

I see a choir made up of people who are passionate about music, and serious about improving their own skill.  We have people in our choirs who are involved without getting scholastic credit.  That's what makes us different.  There is no music major (yet) at Behrend, so all these people come together to create music because we want to, not because we have to - and God knows that choir is anything but an "easy A."  We work hard to earn our credit.

We also understand when its time to have fun and relax.  In just a few short weeks we'll be invading NYC!  We've been working hard to memorize all of our material before performing there.

We take our time seriously...  This past week, we still held rehearsals even when our director couldn't be there due to a conference.  We'll have a few pictures up on our photobucket of that practice (unfortunately, my camera died about halfway through).

Well, I'm trying to get over a cold and it's a little late.  We'll talk later!

Mandee :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to start by introducing myself.  My name is Mandee Kate Morrow and I'm your '08/'09 Publicity and Concert Manager of PSB Choirs.  I'm the one running around rehearsal taking pictures, and also the one before the concerts who is trying to make sure everything runs the way that it should.  I try to post the pictures that I take in a timely manner, but it doesn't always go as expected :).

Evan and I have agreed to start this choir blog, and we are so pumped about it.  We are more excited than anything else to have the opportunity of showing you what choral activities are like through our eyes, and the eyes of our classmates.

I just want to explain that the Choirs at Penn State Behrend are unlike any other choirs that I've ever participated in before.  Under the direction of Dr. D. Jason Bishop, our choir unifies as more than just a class, more than just a choir, or a group of individuals.  Our choir has developed into a community and a "surrogate family" environment.  Our programs foster special values and gestures that I have rarely seen anywhere else.  We value each other as friends and family.  We welcome constructive criticism, and even raise our hands to take blame for a flat, sharp, or just dead wrong note.

That last comment is a phenomenon that continues to shock and amaze me about our choir.  Living in a world where people are so quick to choose scapegoats and place blame on others, it is refreshing to see and be a part of a group of students who take pride not only in their accomplishments, but also in their faults - and are so willing to take the initiative to improve.

Fall semester had brought so many complications and obstacles that had sometimes blinded us from seeing the light of our potential; yet, with Dr. B's help, hope, and guidance - and our own willingness and dedication, we broke down those barriers.  This semester is no different - as every semester shall reveal.  We take the time to realize our flaws, and we work hard to eliminate them and any other barriers that might hinder us from achieving greatness.

In this choir, you have to want it - even when you can't understand what it is that you want...and you can never walk away from a rehearsal thinking "that went well," because the only way to reach and surpass your own expectations, is to understand that there will always be room for improvement.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Welcome to the experience of a lifetime!

And yes, I do emphasize that this will be something you never forget. Whether you're just one part of the collective body, or you're the audience we perform for, the Choirs at Penn State Behrend truly leave an impact on you no matter which aspect you take on. For those of you reading, I'm the President of Choirs here at PSB for Fall-Spring 2008-2009 school year. As the spring semester is about a third of the way though, I've realized that though I'll only be on board for another ten weeks, myself and the other officers (and even the rest of the choir) have a lot in store for us!

As it stands, around 45 of the almost 60 members of choir are attending a New York City trip at the end of March! This is extremely exciting, because it will be the first trip anyone from a PSB Choir has taken with the still-fresh Dr. Jason Bishop. A lot of hype, planning, and effort on all parts have gone into making this trip a possibility and we're all looking forward to spending four musical and exciting days in the Big Apple!

As the officers make last minute preparations [such as where we might be performing, including the above location of Times Square], many students - prospective singers, curious members, or just curious students - might be wondering what's in store for the future of choirs here at PSB. A lot of this answer lay largely on the future of the leadership of the choirs. Diligently, your elected leaders work to bring you a quality of education in choral activity that's both enriching and enticing; whether or not this includes trips (and more often than not it will) is up to them!

Stay tuned for more information on New York and for upcoming videos of choral rehearsals!

Your Choir President,


You're one and only Director of Choral Activities