All four ISU choirs will perform together during Family Weekend

Jessica Sheldahl

The director snaps her fingers to check the microphones. Students move so they can see. A pitch pipe tells the first note.

A breath is taken by everyone in unison and the Collage of Choirs begins.

More than 330 singers are involved in the four ISU choirs – Iowa State Singers, Iowa Statesmen, Lyrica and Cantamus.

These four choirs perform together only twice a semester, and Collage of Choirs is one of those times.

“Students have been working diligently at their music,” says James Rodde, professor of music, director of choral activities and conductor of the Iowa State Singers and Iowa Statesmen. “There are a lot of things that go into getting a piece together.”

Lyrica, a women’s choir, will begin the Collage of Choirs. They will be followed by the Iowa Statesmen, a men’s group with 123 members.

Cantamus, a women’s choir, will perform songs from around the world.

The top group, Iowa State Singers, will perform next, and finally, the choirs will finish with “Bells of Iowa State” together.

“We really enjoy performing this fall concert,” Rodde says. “Each of these groups gets to hear each other.”

Kathleen Rodde, James’ wife, lecturer of music and director of Lyrica and Cantamus, says the choirs are always ready and excited for a performance.

Collage of Choirs will be performed as a part of Family Weekend.

“We love having it on Family Weekend, which we do every year,” James says.

“Parents and friends will often be there, so it’s a really nice kick off for the year.”

Throughout the semester, the choirs sing a variety of repertoire from all around the world and from the past five centuries, James says.

Kathleen says the choirs try to sing a variety of sacred and secular music.

They sing a lot of pieces from other countries because there are many active women’s choirs around the world, she says.

Singers come from all areas of the university to learn about the best choral music available. Auditions are required for all choirs to ensure a good distribution of voice ranges and sounds, James says.

“I think that from our over 330 singers, about 300 of them are non-music majors,” he says. “They are from all over campus. They share a love of singing.”

Lynette Elsbernd, sophomore in biochemistry, is one of those students.

“I sang all through high school and didn’t want to stop just because I’m not a music major,” Elsbernd says.

Kathleen says she hopes her students come away from choir with positive, supportive memories in addition to learning something musically.

She says the students work on learning quality literature, beautiful tone and many basics of listening.

“Practice together is important,” Kathleen says.

“Some rehearsals together are as memorable as performances together.”