Released: November 29, 2010
By Asha Anchan
Lincoln, Neb. - On Dec. 3, the visual art in the Sheldon Art Museum will be joined with the art of music, compliments of the UNL Chamber Singers. In a concert titled "Sheldon: A Winter Gem," the 26-member choir will mingle in the cathedral-like Great Hall of the Sheldon as their voices fill the acoustically attuned room with song.
However, according to Chamber Singers director Dr. Therees Hibbard, there is a 27th voice that can be heard when the choir performs in the Sheldon.
"I say to them (Chamber Singers) the acoustics in the Sheldon is the other voice in our choir," Hibbard said.
The architectural layout of the Sheldon allows the space to house more than visually stimulating works of art; it also functions as a known site for a supreme sound quality on campus.
"It is totally different than singing in the choir room in the Westbrook Music Building," said Kaley Smith, a Chamber Singer member and UNL senior. "My favorite thing is to listen to the overtones and the echoes after a high note and for a soprano it doesn't get better than hearing a really clear 'A' shimmer through the space."
Smith is a music performance and English double major and this will be her third year performing with the Chamber Singers. While she enjoys the experience of performing in the Sheldon, she said there are some unique tricks when singing in the space.
"It requires a lot of concentration, because it is harder to blend and you can get lost in your own part if you are not listening closely enough to the rest of the choir," Smith said.
Michala Martin, a graduate student in choral conducting, described similar challenges to performing in the Sheldon, but also described the feeling of "instant gratification."
"You work so hard to put the music together and the space makes it sound incredible," Martin said. "It's instant gratification because it comes right back to your ear."
The Chamber Singers meet twice a week to prepare for the mixture of carols, traditional Christmas songs and other selections they will perform at the December concert. Hibbard said the group spends part of each rehearsal practicing in the Sheldon to determine how they will maneuver as a group to create "a sound to the sites of Sheldon."
Maximizing areas such as stairways and balconies to achieve different sound levels, the singers also break in to small caroling groups that mill around the art and audience.
The unique format, in addition to the seasonal music allow for a performance that is unlike traditional concerts.
"During our other concerts, we also have really beautiful music, of course, but there is something about the space in Sheldon, the music we are doing, and the time of year that makes the December concert really special," Smith said.
As the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere and positive sound create and aura of holiday cheer for the audience, the audio and visual arts of the Sheldon are all put on display.
"It feeds off the environment," Martin said. "They're (audience) going to enjoy listening to some good music but it's also good for us because we do have an appreciation for the fine arts and it's nice to be around that."
"It feels like it fits."
The Chamber Singers recital will be in The Great Hall of Sheldon Museum of Art, Friday, December 3 at 5:00 pm. This event is FREE and open to the public.