Dear Dr. Kesling and all of my fellow singers in the UF Concert Choir,
When I first auditioned for this ensemble, I felt like I didn't belong in a choir room. While I have been singing for a long time, I was rejected from the choral program at my performing arts middle school. Instead, I was accepted into said school's theatre program and ultimately had the chance to participate in musical theatre.
Over the course of seven years at Bak Middle School of the Arts and Dreyfoos School of the Arts, I was singing show tunes from Guys and Dolls and Rent, and even did productions of Honk and Midsummer: The Musical while my classmates in the vocal department where singing complex music by Eric Whitacre, Robert Shaw, and Z. Randall Stroope. Listening to my friends who sang in the Bak MSOA Chorale or the DSOA Singers, I felt an equal sense of awe and resentment.
While I was fortunate enough to sing in the UF Men's Glee Club and Tone Def A Cappella, and while I have sung some tight harmonies working on a semi professional production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the idea of creating a blended sound was slightly foreign to me, singing musical theatre songs with a tone bright enough to cut through the most live room. Similarly, while I have played piano and read music before (being one of only a few sight readers in my musical theatre class), I was worried about how I would stack up with the caliber of your musicianship.
I was even worried that I would not pass the audition. However, after singing my solo, I was given nothing but encouragement with the right amount of formative notes. When my name was on the roster, I felt humbled to be singing alongside music majors, students who regularly sang in Florida All-State Honor Choir (including the coveted Sight-Reading Choir) in high school, and even graduate music education students with years of teaching chorus behind them.
With that being said, I would like to say thank you for such amazing experiences.
Thank you, Dr. Kesling for all of the guidance and support as a teacher and mentor--not to mention for the various anecdotes you give as a professional conductor who led professional choirs and orchestra in countries Russia, Romania, and Colombia multiple times over. Also, thank you for allowing us to perform at our highest level, whether we were singing with piano or a cappella in our regular concerts or performing with a 100-piece orchestra for our annual "Sounds of the Season" or during Carmina Burana.
Also, thank you for the opportunity to collaborate with such amazing musicians outside the choir. I have not only developed lasting relationships with the students in my choir, but singers the Gainesville Civic Chorus and the Ensamble Vocal de Medellin (a professional choir from Medellin, Colombia) and musicians in the UF Symphony Orchestra.
To my fellow singers, thank you being a welcoming and supportive group. I never feel any sense of judgment or discouragement whenever I am in the room. As someone who is relatively competitive (stemming partially from my theatre background), I enjoy performing with people who are both compassionate people and passionate musicians.
There are days where I can easily be stressed by work in my other classes or anxiety in general. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I feel like I can leave said baggage out the door. Your enthusiasm for the music we make and the energy you give off makes me get through my day on the right note (no pun intended).
Since this is my third semester in the choir, and my second time performing in "Sounds of the Season" with them, I am grateful to be spending my time spreading cheer through song with you all. I can't wait to make more musical memories with this ensemble.