Tag: music Page 1 of 2

“A leap of faith”: Why a PACTS student joined choir | Guest blogger Cassidy Brown

If you find yourself wandering the halls of CMU’s south side just after noon most days, you will no doubt hear the voices of one of CMU’s choirs. These choirs offer students an excellent opportunity to perform for their peers, grow musically, and create new university experiences.

But what happens if you aren’t a music student? Maybe you were in choirs or other musical ensembles growing up, but found other academic passions. Not to worry, you can still participate in CMU’s choirs!

My name is Cassidy and I am a second-year student studying Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies. That is where I find that my passion lies. However, I love music and singing and so I decided to take a leap of faith and audition for CMU’s Women’s Chorus. Now I find myself singing with roughly 50 other women every Friday!

Guest blogger Cassidy Brown

As someone who isn’t a music student, I had many apprehensions about auditioning for a choir. What if I wasn’t good enough? Would it get in the way of my other studies? As I began my journey with choir in September, I found these worries slowly melting away. Like other courses, choir does require work and practice outside of the classroom, but for someone who isn’t a music student this is often a welcome break from readings and writing papers. Along with this break from other forms of studying, I found myself building new connections with women who are not in my same academic program at CMU. I did have musical and choral experience prior to joining Women’s Chorus, but even within the first rehearsal I found myself learning new techniques which I was thrilled with.

On top of offering excellent opportunities within CMU, choir gives you access to many other opportunities outside of CMU! For example, just this weekend both the Men’s and Women’s Choruses are working together with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) to perform Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy on March 7! Maybe I’m just a music nerd, but this is an incredible opportunity to have a window into what a professional performance is!

The CMU Women’s Chorus of 2019/2020

Aside from the WSO collaboration, my favourite event on campus is Christmas at CMU. This happens around the end of first semester, and CMU’s north side is transformed into a winter wonderland of music, apple cider, and laughter—an excellent way to finish off the semester. While this may seem like a lot of work outside of your regular class schedule, it’s certainly manageable! As I said earlier, working on choral homework is often a very welcome break from the readings and papers that I’m up to my eyeballs in for my other studies.

All in all, my experience as a non-music student in Women’s Chorus has been incredibly enriching. I’ve made new friends, had new experiences, and grown in ways I wouldn’t have been able to outside of a choir setting. So, whether you’re an incoming student or a current student and you’re wondering if choir is right for you, give it a try! You may end up stumbling on a new passion of yours.

Cassidy Brown is a 2nd year Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies student.

My last Christmas at CMU | Guest blogger Emily Hiebert

As I took the stage for my final performance at Christmas at CMU, I wasn’t sure if it was all real. Who would have known that five years after starting at CMU I would still be in choirs even though I was not a music student? I guess singing has always been a part of who I am and how I wanted to spend my every day.

Emily Hiebert (centre) with her choir friends graduating in 2020, at their last Christmas at CMU concert.

Singing in choir and, to be honest, everything about my time at CMU has seemed really natural. It hasn’t been dull or unengaging, but natural in the way that I know CMU was where I was supposed to be. I stayed in choir for all five years of my degree because, even though I am not a music student, I found a community in choir. I found a place where I can express and be who I am.

Being a part of the CMU choirs gave me a space to grow and learn in ways that are not possible in a classroom. I learned what it means to be a part of a cohesive team that only works when each member is contributing. Everything I do or do not do affects the choir as a whole.

Understanding and learning about my role in this community has also taught me that I cannot just worry about myself. Being a part of such an intricate community meant I had to learn that what I do matters but what we do together matters more. This was so important to understand especially in the preparation for Christmas at CMU.

At first, singing at Christmas at CMU felt like a job. I would get exhausted thinking about having to perform the repertoire eight times and for two different choirs. In the end, though, I was always sad that it was over. But this feeling never stayed for too long because I always knew that there would be next year.

Christmas at CMU features not only choirs, but also music ensembles like concert and jazz bands, guitar and handbell ensembles, and many others.

This year I had a similar feeling, but when it was over, I felt a different kind of sad. The only way I can describe how I was feeling is the German word verklempt (which means being overcome with emotions). I was overwhelmed with sadness that my days performing at Christmas at CMU were over because I’m graduating this year. But I was also overjoyed to have had the opportunity to sing in such amazing choirs and to be a part of such a beautiful event. I was also super excited to be able to come back and listen to the choirs and get to hear the high descants during the carol sing instead of sing them.

With my emotions in tow, I left Christmas at CMU grateful for the spirit it gave me, the people it surrounded me with, and the music that fed my soul.  

– Emily Hiebert, 5th-year Social Sciences student

“We are family”: Performing in the CMU opera | Guest blogger Katy Unruh

City Workers in Love snuck up on me. I had no idea what I was getting into when I auditioned for this little comic opera by Neil Weisensel. With a concentration in Vocal Performance, I knew I needed the credits, but I had no idea the hours I put in to earn them would be some of the best, the most fun, most rewarding of my years at CMU so far.

If you’ve never been involved with the production of an opera, I’m not sure I can truly communicate the massive effort it takes. As both a cast member and a production assistant on this show, I got to know it from every angle. I learned my music, and by osmosis, almost everyone else’s. I memorized how to move and when, painted set pieces, made props, took notes in rehearsal, put together costumes, and the list goes on.

But what a list of tasks and projects doesn’t show is all the relationships which were built and shaped through the work on this show.

Katy performs in City Workers in Love
Katy (third from left) performs in City Workers in Love

First, there was my character. I had to discover who she was: her past, her mind, her relationships, even her physicality. She is still in my head—even now I find myself listening for Mavis’ reactions to the things I encounter in my daily goings-about. Mavis taught me new ways of seeing people with grace and to take myself less seriously sometimes.

Then there’s our director. Without David Klassen this show would never have happened! He brought light and warmth and patience into our rehearsals. He expertly saw potential in each cast member, a set design in a poster and an empty stage, and movement in stillness. He made the Laudamus Auditorium on Friday afternoons a safe space, giving us permission to feel and move and make mistakes as we learned about ourselves, our abilities, and each other.

And where would I be without my fellow cast members? One of the recurring lines in City Workers in Love, the mantra of the street crew, is, “We are family.” Over the course of the year this became truer and truer. In our small yet hardy cast, each voice mattered greatly and each distinct personality coloured the atmosphere. The more we learned to blend our voices and our natures, the closer we became. To sing is so deeply personal in the first place—your instrument is your body, your self—and to share that personal work in such intense circumstances speedily forges a bond that’s not easily broken.

In the last two weeks of preparation I hit my stride.  Every moment I could spare was spent on opera, either in a determined rush to put together the final details or contentedly dwelling in the joy of the process. This show left its mark on me. Even as I write this I still find bits of paint stuck in my hair, and I feel almost like a proud mother, changed and affirmed by a product of my effort which took on a life of its own.

Katy Unruh is a 4th year Bachelor of Music student focusing on Vocal Performance and Music Education

CMU’s School of Music: Why the many hours in a practice room are worth it

So far, the three years I have spent studying music at CMU have been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.

Emma Heinrichs - CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

Studying music is unique because you are constantly able to see how the things you are learning in the classroom directly relate to your individual growth as a musician.

This allows us to see how our hard work is paying off, and provides a reward for the endless amount of hours spent in a practice room!

CMU takes a more holistic approach to music. The music program aims to develop well-rounded musicians, as opposed to musicians who are only proficient in one area. And it addresses many areas of musicianship that are often overlooked and not covered in private music lessons.

I have also found that CMU values you as a person. Yes, you are here to get an education, but your success as an individual is also valued.

Within the larger community of CMU, the music school feels like a tight-knit family of students and faculty, who support and care for one another. I feel comfortable asking my profs questions about my degree, assignments, future, or even just what’s going on in my life.

Within the music degree, CMU places value on collaborative work, which allows you to share in the process of music making with your peers.

For me, collaborative work has given me the opportunity to work together with various vocalists and instrumentalists, sing in and accompany choirs, lead music in chapel, and play in the Mennonite Community Orchestra.

Emma Heinrichs - CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

Several highlights for me have been singing in CMU ensembles with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, accompanying a vocalist for their credit recital, and playing in the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition. All of these are experiences where I have seen my learning applied practically, and how it’s paid off.

It’s tough to truly experience what I mean if you’re not in the music program at CMU. But every once in a while, the music program gives a glimpse into the tight-knit family that it is. And there’s probably no better place to witness that than at Christmas at CMU.

Though it’s not a requirement to be a music student to be in one of CMU’s many ensembles, the strengths of the music program that I mentioned, such as the holistic education and community, really shine through at the make-your-own Christmas concert. So get in the holiday spirit, and come to Christmas at CMU on Saturday, November 25th with concerts at 2:00 and 7:00!

Emma Heinrichs is a 3rd year Music student at CMU.

Meet the blogger: Five things you need to know

Jason Friesen at CMU on the bridge to Marpeck Commons

Whether you’re a student, staff, alumnus, or friend of CMU, welcome to another school year at CMU.

My name is Jason Friesen, and I’m the primary blogger for #myCMUlife this year.

Some of you may know me, but some of you likely don’t. This seems like a good chance to introduce myself, so here are five things you probably want to know about me before you start reading my blogs.

1)    Who the heck is this guy?
Well, I said my name already. But on top of that, I’m a proud Winnipegger, have grown up in the Mennonite tradition, and I’ve got one older brother.

2)    How well does this guy know the CMU community?
I’d say I know it pretty well! I’m now in my fifth and final year at CMU. Though I was a commuter student for my first four years, I found ways to stay connected to the community, such as playing on the men’s volleyball team (which I still play on). But I now live on campus, so I’ll be spending plenty of time around the CMU community by nature of where I live this year.

3)    Is this guy even good at writing?
Well, I suppose you can be the judge of that. But if it comforts you at all, I’m a Communications and Media student at CMU. Most of my degree has consisted of classes that focus on things like journalism and communication theory.  I’ve had the opportunity to put the skills I’ve learned in these courses into practice by writing for The Doxa, as well as working as a journalist for the Winnipeg Sun this past summer. So hopefully I’ve learned some things from those experiences.
4)    What does this guy like to do in his spare time?
Jason Friesen at the mens volleyball final.I’ll be honest, I’m a huge sports fan. I love to play sports (particularly volleyball) and I love to watch sports (particularly the Winnipeg Jets). But I like to think I’m not one-dimensional. I also love music. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a fantastic performer of music, you will probably see me singing along in chapel, or singing to the radio in my car. But I sure do love to listen to it!

5)    What’s been the biggest thing I’ve learned through my CMU experiences so far?
Everybody has a story to tell, and everybody has a story worth telling. I truly believe that if told well, anybody’s story can be intriguing. So many of us think that our stories are not unique, or not worthy of sharing. But if you look at them from the proper angle, and use the right words, you can turn what you might think is an ordinary story into something people can’t wait to read or hear!

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