Football and music: a winning combination

Reid Stratton

Tonight, the Memorial Chapel will be filled with something not often found in the concert hall: football.The White Heron Chorale performs its first concert of the 2004-05 season, and the theme of the program is “It’s All About Sports.” The program will include college fight songs and musical comedy selections, including a work called “Classical Football,” a spoof using well-known classical music to narrate a typical Packer game, taking the listener from tailgate party to the tie-breaking extra-point kick.

The White Heron Chorale is a community choir that is entering its 26th year. Lawrence University’s own Professor Rick Bjella has been conducting the White Heron Chorale for 19 years. The ensemble performs a wide variety of music, including classics like Bach’s B Minor Mass to spirituals to comedy pieces like “Classical Football.” The Chorale is composed of 60 community members from ages 20 to 75, with members traveling up to 60 miles for rehearsals.

“Naturally, there are difference between conducting the Lawrence choirs and the White Heron Chorale. The major differences are in programming,” says conductor Rick Bjella. “Our goals are to reach a broader community audience and to have the White Heron Chorale experience music from Broadway to Bach, from ‘It’s All About Sports’ to the Britten ‘War Requiem.'”

Bjella continues, “I sense that music plays an entirely different role [in the White Heron Chorale] than for most of the conservatory majors, so the rehearsal changes based somewhat on that paradigm. Also, we have several members that have suffered with cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and other catastrophic events –they are there for each other on a very personal level.”

Of course, LU choirs and the White Heron Chorale aren’t all that different. Bjella notes that “many things are the same. We strive for vocal freedom, try to honor the composer’s intent, work for ensemble discipline, musical phrasing, an inevitable organic nature brought forth through the composer’s voice.”

For the first concert of the season, come watch sports and music collide with very favorable results. The White Heron Chorale performs “It’s All About Sports” on Friday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.