I continue to learn important lessons about the unique mission of community colleges. I recently attended the Spring Choral Concert at Cleveland State. Keep in mind that I have been a choral singer for most of my life. Doing so has been a passion and comfort for me over the years. While I do not have a great voice, I describe myself as one who blends well with others.
This was my first opportunity to attend a concert at Cleveland State and I have to admit my expectations were based on the many performances I have attended or in which I have participated. The experience that I had at this concert was not what I expected, but I walked away perhaps more moved and impressed than I ever had been before.
What I found was a perfect reflection of our diverse Cleveland State community. As you know, Cleveland State is an open admission college and we are fortunate to teach students of all abilities and interests. The concert displayed the full diversity of our campus through song. The skill level of the voices I heard ranged from novices to the extremely accomplished. Regardless, every choir member displayed the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm that you would expect of any performer.
Karen Dale is our choir director and it is easy to tell that she has a love of teaching through music. Where it might be expected that only quality and experienced singers be allowed membership into a college choir, Karen takes on all comers. We have singers who range in age from 18 to 70. The choir includes students as well as some faculty and retired staff. Some joined in with guitars and drums and I heard at least one flute. There was choreography and coordinated effects, as well as narration to inform the audience about the history of the music.
Simply, the production of the whole evening was amazing. The amount of work and preparation that went into the event was obvious. The best part was talking with some of the members afterwards and watching them interact with their family and friends. You could easily witness the excitement and pride.
I am so happy that we have a choral program that allows anyone the opportunity to learn, experience the cultural arts and have their moments to shine. It reminds me of the church choirs in which I have sung. All those who wanted to experience the joy of singing as a way of inspiring others were welcome to join. Regardless of our ability, we were blessed to make a joyful noise.
We are a community college. I was so pleased to see our college choir fulfill our mission in such a beautiful way.
(About the writer: Dr. Bill Seymour is president of Cleveland State Community College and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)