Collaborating for the College: The AQ Choir Program

The combined Aquinas College and West Catholic High School choirs performing at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Story by Reporter Ellie Youngs

Photos courtesy of Zach Avery

After speaking with Aquinas College’s new choral director, Dr. Chris Mason, I was refreshed and excited to hear about how the program is progressing and preparing for the concert on Sunday, November 7. 

The concert was a collage concert with the West Catholic High School choir, and Dr. Mason has dedicated a great deal of time to not only work with the Aquinas choral ensembles, but also with West Catholic, and he has greatly enjoyed seeing such enthusiasm from the high school students. 

“You can just tell these kids are motivated, and want to improve” Mason said, “their choir is a zero hour, which means they all voluntarily come to school an hour before school starts, and they even came fifteen minutes earlier to rehearse with me. It is exciting to see the enthusiasm that these kids have, and I am excited for people to hear the music that these kids have been working so hard to put together.” 

Prima Webb, a singer in all three of Aquinas College’s choral ensembles, was also present to share her thoughts on preparing for the concert and the progress of the ensembles under a new director. As a music education major, Webb has been completing a portion of her observation hours at West Catholic High School and has witnessed first hand how they are able to work and have fun while working with Dr. Mason.

“It has been super fun to see the kids work with Dr. Mason” Webb said. 

The ensembles sang a plethora of songs on Sunday that varied in genre. “One of the things I am most excited about for this concert is the diversity of the program. We are singing songs that originate from Germany, Latin America, as well as songs that portray the African experience in America” Mason explained. “By paying such close attention to the details of these different pieces, and where those pieces come from is also a way to honor and show respect to those cultures.”

Dr. Chris Mason with the combined Aquinas College and West Catholic High School Choirs. Photo courtesy of Zach Avery.

Dr. Mason also elaborated on the culture of the Aquinas Choral program as a whole, and who they aspire to be. “Students are really open to being good,” Mason puts it plainly. “For this concert, the kids are singing in five different languages and they are doing great with it. They want to improve, and they want to be the best they can be.” The fact that a majority of the students in the ensembles are not majoring in music, and they are not required to take these classes, adds even more depth to the program.  These students are singing because they simply want to sing, and they enjoy doing it. Dr. Mason refers to the Aquinas choirs as a “micro-chasm” of what it means to be an Aquinas student. “Anyone is welcome to join, and we are always looking for more singers” 

The next choral program will be held on Sunday, December 3rd, for the annual Lessons and Carols concert, and it will be followed by a collage concert on December 5th.