By Amy Taylor
More than 85 students have signed up for Trevecca’s newest choir.
The Gospel Choir, which kicked off this spring, has nearly three times more students than organizers expected and could have had more if not for capping the enrollment.Students get one hour of credit for taking the course and will be expected to perform between 10 and 15 times this semester, including a tour which will begin in April.
The idea was to start a campus wide choir that sings up-tempo, current gospel music accompanied by live instruments rather than the classical music which can found in the rest of the music department. The choir, which is not strictly housed in the music department, was organized to represent the Nazarene denomination and to promote the university to churches of that denomination as well.
Interest in the course grew not only because of students’ love for music, but also because they heard that Dr. John Ray, Director of Vocal Studies at Trevecca, would be the instructor, some students said.
Ray has had 35 years of experience in the music business, recording and composing choral and worship music, working in recording studios in Nashville, and working with Michael W. Smith.
Because the majority of students in the choir are not music majors, Ray wants the choir to be “more accessible as well as challenging” for the students, he said.
Ray wants his students to learn more about music and experience it in hopes that they will become music majors; however, he also wants them to be able to reach out to people on and off campus through the music.
“The university’s responsibility is to promote the university to churches of its denomination and, in some sense, to minister beyond those boundaries,” Ray said.
Ray was shocked when he realized how quickly the choir was growing in size, he said. He initially expected about 30 students would join. He had to move the class from Wakefield to the Tarter Student Activity Center to accommodate the large group.
“I think the coolest part is how many people turned out for it,” James Ludeman, a member of Gospel choir with a major in worship arts, said.
Gospel Choir will be singing at local churches throughout the semester and is hoping to sing during TNT, Ray said.
They are also planning to leave for tour on April ninth, starting in Orlando.
Ray feels that it is important for him and all of the members of Gospel Choir to get to know each other if they are going to be ministering together, he said.
“Dr. Ray is trying to get to know each of us as individuals, so that’s a plus,” Lauren Brown, a member of Gospel choir with a minor in music, said.
In order for everyone involved in the choir to get to know each other better, Ray has organized a retreat at the end of February for the members of Gospel Choir.
“The purpose is to get to know each other, and that’s hard with a group of 80, but that’s important,” Ray said.
The large group of students doesn’t intimidate Ray, however. He is hoping to be able to accommodate between 100 and 125 students in the choir next spring, he said.
“I want this to be an enjoyable, challenging ministry that calls out the best in students,” Ray said.