Southern’s Chamber Singers learn from Disney-inspired ensamble, Voctave

Quinten Sargent

On Sat., Feb.1 Missouri Southern Chamber Singers were given the opportunity to open Connect2Culture’s third instalment of the Curtains Up concert series, Voctave. 

Voctave is an 11-member a cappella group with professional roots at Walt Disney World Entertainment, compiled of diverse musical backgrounds.

Southern Chamber Singers welcomed Jamey Ray, producer and arranger of the 11-member a cappella group to Phinney Hall, located in the Fine Arts Complex for a professional-lead Master class.

Ray spent the afternoon coaching students on musical techniques and ways to improve their musical talents as a group, while preparing them for a career after college.

One of the pieces critiqued by Ray was, I Can Tell the World by Moses Hogan, an upbeat piece Ray described as powerful. As the Chamber members sang, Ray stopped throughout to give pointers on confidence, intentionality, and techniques to build momentum.

“I want to feel more of that. I don’t want to hear more, I want to feel more,” said Ray in response to his suggestion to be more confident as a group.

The Master class ended with a surprise performance and Q&A with Ray, and the rest of the a cappella group, Voctave. 

As Chamber Singers sat in their formation, they got a preview of Voctave’s arrangements that would be included in the set list for their performance later that evening. Following the performance of the arrangement “I Can Fly” written by Jamey Ray, the Chamber Singers could be seen as awestruck.

Jarrett Little, sophomore vocal performance major asked, “You guys just came in here and had so much energy, how do you do that?”

“Once you learn the notes there should be no such thing as rehearsal notes,” responded Ray.

Voctave members answered many questions from the Chamber Singers, ranging from careers after college and ways to stand out in auditions.

Chrystal Johnson, second alto of Voctave, received a degree in mass communications with an emphasis in public relations before actively perusing music. Johnson sought out experiences from her degree that have helped throughout her musical career.

“I didn’t necessarily want to be a PR specialist, but I knew that the marketing and business aspects, being able to speak with somebody and relate to them was the most important part,” said Johnson.

In preparation for the evening’s concert hosted by Connect2Culture, Emily Frankoski expressed her excitement for coordinating a vast variety of performances to bring to the Joplin community.

“Our mission is to ignite a passion for the arts, culture, and entertainment in the Joplin area and these performances do just that, they bring things [acts] that would normally pass up Joplin,” said Frankoski.

The Chamber Singers took the stage, Sat. Feb. 1 at Joplin High School’s Performing Arts Center, under the direction of Dr. David L. Sharlow, director of Choral Activities. The men shadowed the ladies in black tuxedos paired with emerald ties while the ladies donned emerald evening gowns with a single strand of pearls, creating an elegant opening for the headliners, Voctave.

Upon completion, Southern’s Chamber Singers were applauded and dismissed to the crowd where they would watch Voctave perform a plethora of songs. Voctave performed well-known musical numbers like Moon River, and even some original arrangements created by the groups’ very own, Jamey Ray.

Voctave’s performance was filled with emotions– audience members could be seen laughing, swaying to the music and even wiping an occasional tear as the music filled the auditorium.

The Chamber Singers described their experience at the Master class in addition to opening for Voctave, as honorable and exciting in the least.

Alexandrea Moore, freshman vocal education major, and Chamber Singer, agrees insight was gained and the opportunity was once in a lifetime.

“That we’re opening for such a large group and a well-known group was just so astounding to me, said Moore.

All in all, Connect2Culture’s Curtains Up, Voctave installment, featuring Southern’s Chamber Singers not only brought art and culture to the community but allowed prospective musicians a first hand look into the life of a professional musician and the various pathways that lead to their desired destination. 

“They [Chamber Singers] can see what they’re doing now can lead to as far an an ensemble like that,” said Sharlow.