Indiana Daily Student

The Bloomington Chamber Singers to present ‘American Choral Gems’ Nov. 12

<p>Bloomington Chamber Singers member and composer Abby Henkel sings during a BCS concert March 2019. The Bloomington Chamber Singers will perform Nov. 12 at St. Mark&#x27;s United Methodist Church.</p>

Bloomington Chamber Singers member and composer Abby Henkel sings during a BCS concert March 2019. The Bloomington Chamber Singers will perform Nov. 12 at St. Mark's United Methodist Church.

The Bloomington Chamber Singers (BCS) will present 20th and 21st century choral works at their performance “American Choral Gems” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.

“American Choral Gems" will feature pieces from composers Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copeland, Elaine Hagenburg, Eric Whitchare, IU Jacobs School of Music Professor Dominick DiOrio and BCS singer Abby Henkel.  

Gerald Sousa has been the conductor for BCS since 1989. Sousa, who said he wanted to become a conductor since age five, came to Bloomington to get a doctorate in choral conducting at the Jacobs School of Music.  

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Sousa said he came to the Jacobs School of Music because of the amazing faculty, the number of students and the academic influence. He was so inspired by the school, he said, he decided to stay in Bloomington.  

The program features classics by Leonard Berstein and Aaron Copeland but also women and minority composers, including Elaine Hagenburg and Abby Henkel. Sousa said he believes it is important to present different composers to represent as many people as possible.  

Caio Lopes, a doctoral student in choral conducting at the Jacobs School of Music, was selected to be the assistant director of the BCS. This role lets him conduct pieces and have a say in the repertoire they perform.  

Lopes said he grew up observing his father — who was a choral conductor — and it ultimately inspired him to follow that same path. 

“I think a big part of me wanted to be a teacher,” Lopes said. “I had a strong connection to music, making it the perfect set up.”  

Abby Henkel, who is a member of BCS and composed one of the pieces they are performing, started singing and studying piano and theory at a young age. She was in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir in the early 2000s. 

“Singing was a natural fit for me,” Henkel said. “I love singing with other people, blending and everyone coming together. We all depend on each other as a team and expect everyone to put in their all.”  

While Henkel became a musician at an early age, she didn’t discover composing until she went to college here at Indiana University and took courses in music theory. Originally wanting to be a choral conductor, Henkel discovered she enjoyed the composition process more.  

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Henkel said she loves the process of starting with a blank canvas and turning it into something beautiful. She also loves the aspect of collaboration and being able to constantly adjust.  

The piece was inspired by a poem named “Sorrow is Not my Name” by Ross Gay, who is Henkel’s neighbor. 

“I was really struck by it, and I grabbed a piece of paper and started writing,” Henkel said. “I wanted to make something crisp and clean and beautiful, but that also has meaning.”  

Tickets for the “American Choral Gems” concert are available on the BCS websiteTickets are $20 per adult and $15 for students, with an option of viewing the concert in person or on livestream.

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