Towson University Chorale serenades fellow Tigers with impromptu staircase performance
Just hours after the Towson University community learned that spring break would begin early to allow faculty to prepare for online learning in light of the coronavirus, the sounds of voices joining in song rang through the Center for the Arts.
Instinctively, he took out his phone and started filming.
“I didn't know what they were doing or why,” Mason recalls. But the song—“Even When He Is Silent” by Kim André Arnesen—was familiar to Mason and many in the community because the chorale had recently performed it at PRISM, the College of Fine Arts & Communication’s spring arts showcase.
“It really was a beautiful moment as we paused to listen, and it was comforting to be reminded of the power of music even in the midst of chaos.”
Mason posted the video to Facebook, where it has since been shared more than 400 times and racked up over 26,000 views.
Members of the TU Chorale received the news via email just as they began their 2 p.m. rehearsal on Tuesday, March 10. Diana Sáez, director of choral activities, sensed unease among her students, pausing the rehearsal to go over the email’s contents.
At the beginning of rehearsal, one of her students had asked if they could perform the song in the staircase, known for its acoustics.
“In times of uncertainty, music is always comforting and reassuring,” Sáez says. “I thought it would be the perfect way to finish the class.”
Amanda Rogel, a sophomore studying vocal music education, was hesitant to stick around for the staircase performance. She was already worrying about getting to her residence hall and off campus as quickly as possible to beat traffic. “But once we started singing, and the voices rang throughout the stairwell, a calmness set over me,” Rogel recalls. “It reminded me why I was in my major, why I enjoyed bringing the beautiful sound of voice to students. It really did help boost the morale of the choir.”
As they sang, members of the chorale were joined by fellow students, faculty and staff for a moment of unity in music.
“The community that is found through choral singing speaks strongly to our human condition, and our community of students found peace and comfort in the moving music they sang that day,” says Professor and Department of Music Chair Phillip Collister. “I’m proud of them and their director for performing this act of unity in the face of great uncertainty.”
For many, it’s emblematic of the support to be found in the college and wider university community.
“The passion, dedication and resilience of our students found a wonderfully heartfelt expression in this impromptu performance,” says College of Fine Arts & Communication Interim Dean Greg Faller. “I’m so humbled by their sense of community and mutual support.”