Student Stories: Churchill Singers to Perform April 25

By Brittany Wright Holmes ’20, member of the Churchill Singers

The power of light as a substance which is absorbed, reflected, and then refracted is what thematically unifies the music for the Churchill Singers’ upcoming concert, “Changed by Light, Changed by Love” on Thursday night, April 25, at 7 p.m. in St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.

Collectively, our songs suggest this progression: we are empowered by the light and love that we absorb, we then reflect that in relationships that are meaningful to us, and finally we may send that light and love back out into the communities where we live and work. So, the physical properties of light as something that is absorbed, reflected, and refracted is a metaphor throughout this concert.

Given the specificity of our theme, the musical styles within this concert are diverse. We are singing love songs, settings of poetry, pop songs, gospel, and pieces from musical theater.

A setting of a Pablo Neruda poem is at the heart of our concert. Neruda was a Chilean, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. His love poems are very passionate, and the Morten Lauridsen setting of Neruda’s “Soneto De La Noche” is acapella with many beautiful dissonant harmonies. The poem is all about loving someone so deep that even when you are no longer with them, all you want is their happiness.   

Kelsie Slaughter ’20 describes this kind of love saying, “It is not a selfish, possessive love; it is selfless and unconditional.” Lauridsen’s choral setting has quickly become a favorite for many in Churchill Singers.

Audience members may know some of the other pieces we are performing. For instance, we are singing a jazz arrangement of “True Colors.” As Dr. Sexton, our conductor, says “If you haven’t heard this in the movie Trolls, then you likely remember the 80s recording from my high school days by Cyndi Lauper!” This piece and its message really resonates with members of our choir.

Michael Summerlin ’21 explains that the message “is significant because it’s important to be authentic to one’s self, and this music reminds us how vulnerable we become when we do that.”

Sally Krebs ’20 agrees and adds that “the song has a beautiful underlying message to ultimately be your true self, not what anyone else wants you to be.”   

We’ve worked really hard to learn this music and connect to it deeply. Our goal is to reflect the joy that this music brings to us when we sing. If we can share this message of light and love so that our guests are moved by it, then we’ve accomplished our goal. Singing together is such a meaningful part of our time at Westminster.

Graduating senior, Shelby Buchholz has summarized how we feel when she recently said, “This has meant the world to me. I love singing, and singing in this choir is like having one big, beautiful voice. And, we treat each other like family here.”

The music we sing, singing together, being authentic and vulnerable—this is part of our light and love, and we look forward to sharing it with our audience during this concert!   

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.