Iowa Statesmen to perform wide range of music

The Iowa Statesmen choir prepares for its Holiday Festival concert, set for Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. The Statesmen will perform a new lineup at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. “The Statesmen have a really diverse song lineup this year, and we’re very excited to perform it,” said Alex Tinguely. The Cantamus choir will also perform Sunday after the Statesmen.


The Iowa Statesmen’s upcoming concert will feature an assortment of songs spanning different time periods, genres and languages.

They will perform twice on Oct. 29, at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., in the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall at the Music Hall. Tickets are $5 for the event.

The Iowa Statesmen is a choir consisting of over 130 students. They are under the direction of James Rodde, professor of music and director of choral activities at Iowa State.

Rodde decides the song selections for each Statesmen performance. His song choices for this concert span the Renaissance, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras of music. Some selections will be sung in German, Hebrew, Latin and various languages of India.

“Choosing repertoire is the hardest part of my job because you want to pick music that the guys are going to enjoy and I as a conductor am going to enjoy working on,” Rodde said. “For [the Statesmen] I try to find some variety [of] upbeat, slow, accompanied [and] unaccompanied [songs].”

Most songs will be sung with piano accompaniment. Some songs will be sung acapella and others with percussion and guitar.

Austin Hultquist, a senior in finance, serves as the president of Statesmen. He described how the different song types guide their stage presence during their performance.  

“If it’s a serious piece, we tend to be more serious. If it’s a more of a fun, interactive piece, we’ll be moving around more and just having fun,” Hultquist said.  

Rodde thinks his selections work well with the Statesmen’s range and versatility in singing.

“I think they like virtually every piece,” Rodde said. “They’ll sing a Renaissance piece. They have that variety.”

Jacob Drahos, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, is a member of Statesmen who enjoys all the songs they will perform.

“I really like the songs we’re doing this year. We always do a very nice variety of songs because men’s choir is very versatile,” Drahos said.

Drahos’ favorite song they are rehearsing is Franz Schubert’s “Widerspruch.”

“[Widerspruch is] a lot of fun. It’s just a nice, jolly, German song … German is fun to sing. You just have to spit it out and do it, but it’s a lot of fun. [It’s] a lot of words and syllables [and] some interesting sounds that you’re not used to making in the English language,” Drahos said.  

Logan Davis, a junior studying biology and Spanish, described the story contained in the words of “Widerspruch.”

“It details someone who briefly manages to fly and then wants to return to Earth,” Davis said.

Davis thinks it’s important to fully understand the meaning behind the songs before they can properly perform them. He says this can be harder to do with the songs in different languages.

“In order to sing a song the best you can, you have to know what it’s trying to say, even if it’s in a different language. Because ultimately, the point of a story determines our inflection for how we say it,” Davis said.

Though the foreign language songs are difficult to master, Davis says it is the complex songs that are his favorite pieces to perform.

“[Complex songs] usually have better harmonies and melodies and more to the piece [and] maybe a more serious message … a more interesting story,” Davis said.

Drahos also prefers learning and performing the more complex songs.

“Even if it’s the most beautiful song in the world, if it’s easy enough that you can just phone it in, then it’s no fun,” Drahos said. “Some of the most fun songs are the ones that are extremely technical, difficult pieces that are hard. People enjoy a challenge and this is no different.”

The Statesmen put in a lot of practice to master all the songs. They have met three days a week since the beginning of the semester to prepare for this performance.

“If the audience can just even get the slightest inkling of how much fun we have putting it together, then they’ll have a great time [at the concert],” Drahos said.

“Within the piece itself, you can just take them somewhere. A lot of times there can be some fairly meaningful text in the songs as well and being able to share that meaning with the audience too can be wonderful,” Drahos said.

Davis thinks the audience will connect well with the songs which will lead to an enjoyable experience.

“I feel like each of our songs has a strong quality to it that will speak to someone in the audience at least, if not everyone,” Davis said.

“We’re all very excited to perform what we’ve been working on this semester,” Davis said. “I think we’re definitely worth making the trip out to see perform.”