Iowa State Choirs Perform on Campus through Monday Monologue

Finn Mcnally

Several choir groups performed in front of Parks Library on Monday morning as a part of an ongoing weekly series called Monday Monologue. The series features students’ poetry, music and theatre.

Three choir groups sang in the performance. The first group, Cantamus, began at noon. They lined up on the front steps of the library and sang their first song, “I’m Gonna Sing Til the Spirit Moves in My Heart.” They performed three more songs on the steps. During their fourth song, the singers made their way into the crowd and the next choir took over.

 Lyrica, the second choir, stood in a circle in the middle of the crowd. Dr. Jennifer Rodgers, the assistant director of choral activities and an assistant teaching professor in the music and theatre department at Iowa State University and the director of the three choirs, said that Lyrica was an unorthodox choir. 

 Aside from being in a circle rather than the traditional choir lines, the Lyrica singers moved back and forth across the circle to the rhythm of the music. Rodgers said their movements were a form of eurythmics, a tradition of incorporating movement and dynamics into song.

“We’re starting a new identity with [Lyrica] and we’re exploring what I’m calling a soundscape of cultural sounds,” said Rodgers. “In many places around the world, music doesn’t happen in that traditional arch, it happens in a circle. It is driven by rhythm and harmony and all of the singers are autonomous.”

 Rodgers said this was the first time the group has performed in this style. They sang four songs, concluding with “Amazing Grace.” Sticking to their unconventional style, the group asked the audience to participate in the song, in response the crowd sang a chanted to accompany the choir. 

 The final performance was from Count Me In, Iowa State’s soprano and alto a capella group. They lined up on the steps where Cantamus had performed. They sang more contemporary songs than the other choirs: “Mr. Sandman”, a jazz classic by the Chordettes, and “Jolene” by Dolly Parton.

Susan Gent, a program specialist at Iowa State and Ames public libraries, is the founder of Monday Monologues. She started the series in the fall of 2018 when she began her position at Iowa State.

 “I kept thinking about making the library a center of celebrating words, whether it’s singing or theatre or poetry or prose readings,” said Gent.

Before COVID-19, the performances took place in the Grant Wood room in the Parks, which Gent says has great acoustics. Once the pandemic struck they adapted to the pandemic and moved them to the front lawn of the library and began livestreaming the performances.

 Gent said that she is interested in getting more directly involved with students and student groups to set up performances. She is in the process of scheduling next semester’s performances and encouraged students who are interested to contact her via email at [email protected].

 The next Monday Monologue will be livestreamed on October 11 at noon on the Iowa State University Library YouTube channel. The presentation is called Fashion Forward: Centering Justice in Fashion History. It will focus on reinterpreting historical fashion pieces through a social justice lens.