Broadening Horizons: Choir students prepare foreign songs for assessment

For the past several weeks, passersby may have heard the sounds of boomwhackers, chanting and foreign lyrics emanating from the choir room.
In preparation for the assessment concert on March 18, choir students have been learning songs in different languages.
“I always try to have a foreign language piece on the program that is contrasting in nature to [the choir ensembles’] other selections,” choir director Kelli Pierson said.
This year, students will be singing four songs in languages other than English: “Sililiza” in Swahili, “Yo Le Canto Todo el Dia” in Spanish, “Gnothi Safton” in Greek and “Balleilakka” in Tamil.
“The most challenging part is memorizing the songs in a foreign language and having authentic pronunciation,” Pierson said.
Choir member and freshman Sophia Rader agreed.
“Pronouncing the words in different languages can be difficult and frustrating at first, but eventually, it’s not an issue,” Rader said. “Most choral arrangements I’ve sung in African languages are really upbeat and lively, so they’re usually really fun.”
Rader said she believes all singers should learn songs that are different from what they are used to.
“I think it’s great to experience singing songs that are unique and very different to the English songs we usually sing,” Rader said. “Exposing us to new and different techniques can be very beneficial.”
Pierson said she thinks learning songs from around the world is an important part of musical education.
“I always hope that my students can come out of assessment with a newfound appreciation for all that you can get out of a piece of music and how it can help us all become better musicians,” Pierson said.
Performing with memorized dynamics and articulations while also performing with stage presence is the next challenge, Pierson said.
Before assessment, students will have a chance to practice in front of the Marshall community at the March 8 pre-assessment concert taking place in the auditorium.