Knox Choir Celebrates 75th Year, Hosts Reunion
Conductor Laura Lane leads students, alumni in concert at Homecoming
October 24, 2013
Led by Laura Lane, Knox professor of music who has directed the choir for 30 years, returning Choir alumni joined the 2013-14 Choir for three selections: "Bogoroditse Devo" by Sergei Rachmaninoff, "Ave Maria" by Franz Biebl, and "The Knox Hymn."
The Choir and Chamber Singers also performed several additional selections: "Sing Joyfully" by William Byrd, "Sitivit Anima Mea" by G.P. da Palestrina, "Sing We and Chant It" by Thomas Morley, "Mon Coeur Se Recommande A Vous" by Orlando di Lasso, and "Sehnsucht" by Johannes Brahms..
Here is a look at some of the Choir alumni who came back for the reunion. (Photo at right: Past and present Knox College Choir members at a reception following the reunion concert.)
Alison Tomchik '08 remembers her Choir experience as providing "a great sense of community."
"Since you could do it without being a music major, the Choir brought people from many different backgrounds together," added Tomchik, who lives in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. "Laura Lane was like a mentor and mom to all of us."
She said her favorite Choir tradition is the Golden Screw, which humorously recognizes foul-ups that Choir members make while on tour.
Tomchik won it twice, once for accidentally trying to pay for her dinner with her room key instead of a credit card.
Will Culbertson '03 treasures the years he spent singing in the Choir and participating in Choir tours to Carnegie Hall and Spain.
"I can't even imagine Knox without the Choir," said Culbertson, who lives in Austin, Texas. "I learned to listen, not just to the music but to the people around me. To be an active listener...there's a larger life lesson there."
The best tour moment, he said, happened during the 2003 Spain tour in a small Catalonian town called Lloret del Mar.
"When we sang some of their local, traditional songs in their language, the people really connected with us, and we seemed to connect with them," he said. "It was just very, very special to bring an American sound to their songs."
Like Tomchik, Culbertson's favorite Choir tradition is the Golden Screw. Though he was nominated several times, he never won the award.
"It's kind of like winning an Oscar," he joked. "It's just an honor to be nominated."
Martha Hohn Friedlander '70 made the trip to Galesburg from her home in Dexter, Michigan, for the Choir reunion.
Being in the Choir enhanced her Knox experience, she said, adding that then-choir director Creston Klingman was very encouraging to choir members.
"It gave me a sense of belonging that I wouldn't have had without it," she said.
Cole Atcheson '13 and Brigette Demke '11 say they value the unique bonds they formed over the years with fellow Choir members.
"The big thing that makes this Choir so incredible is that even though we all have very different disciplines at Knox, [and] we're all very different people, we all come together and make music, and we are such a close family," said Atcheson, who lives in Boulder, Colorado.
"As Jmaw [Moses], the current president, said," Atcheson added, "we are deeply intimate with each other when we make music. And it's a connection that you can't get anywhere else."
Demke, who lives in Park Ridge, Illinois, agreed, adding: "Choir was where I found most of the most amazing parts of my time at Knox."
For Sarah Kurian '10, singing in the Knox College Choir served as "my outlet, my fun space."
Now a fourth-year medical student at Rush University in Chicago, she still sings with a choir at Rush and with her church choir.
"I think singing is part of me that I just can't squelch," she said. "Also, it keeps me balanced and sane. Even here, I was a biochemistry major and a music minor because I enjoyed it. I needed something outside of science."
The Choir, she added, "was my place where I got to be part of a family at Knox."