Welcoming back a friendly face

Leah ThompsonStaff Writer

The recent departure of the previous Chapel Choir director allowed Gustavus to welcome a familiar face back to campus: Professor Samuel Grace. Grace is the new Chapel Choir Director and is calling Gustavus home again after graduating in 2011.

Throughout the past ten years Grace has continued his education, obtaining his Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, and is currently in the process of obtaining his Doctorate in Choral Conducting from Indiana University.

Grace graduated from Gustavus with a degree in Music and was involved in Chapel Choir during his first and second year of college, later joining the Gustavus Choir during his junior and senior years. 

“During my time at Gustavus, I felt that there was a sense of community in the music department. I was able to create meaningful friendships and relationships starting my first year in Chapel Choir,” Grace said.

Now, not only can Director Grace continue to do what he enjoys, but he has been able to complete one of his long-term goals, to teach higher education.

Although Grace has just begun his adventure as a professor at Gustavus, he has been an active member of the college since he graduated. Most notably, Grace has been known to come back to campus to help the music department with its J-term musicals.

Outside of his continued work with the Gustavus community, Grace founded MPLS (imPulse) in 2014. MPLS is a choral ensemble based in Minneapolis, Minnesota that prides itself on creating “a choral experience for every space and community,” meaning that the ensemble often performs in non-traditional spaces.

Professor Grace’s experience with building and retaining a sense of community wherever he goes is something he wants his Chapel Choir students to feel during their time at Gustavus.

“Professor Grace brings a unique perspective to the classroom. He embodies the spirit of community because he is a product of the community. He can speak about his time on campus and the extraordinary work he’s done since graduating,” Dr. Brandon Dean said.

What makes Chapel Choir unique is that it’s open to every student on campus and it doesn’t require an audition. This means that all students are welcome to join regardless of year, major, or experience. This can be a fun, stress-relieving experience for students who love to sing.

Chapel Choir meets twice a week throughout the entire semester from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays in Christ Chapel. This year’s choir is comprised of 65 students and is a course that can be taken for credit.

“The Christ Chapel ensemble is great for students interested in making music who don’t want the time commitment of a touring ensemble,” Dr. Dean said.

Throughout Fall 2022, Gustavus students can expect two major performances from Chapel Choir. One of the performances will occur during Gustavus’ annual Family Weekend which is Friday, Sept 30 through Sunday, October 2.

The other major performance will take place near the end of the semester during Christmas in Christ Chapel. Chapel Choir will be involved in all four performances for Christmas in Christ Chapel during the weekend of Friday, Dec 2 through Sunday, Dec 4, 2022.

In addition to these major performances, Chapel Choir will be singing for Morning Praise in Christ Chapel two times throughout the semester. Morning Praise is a recurring event on Wednesdays throughout the semester from 10:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. in Christ Chapel. Pastries and beverages are typically provided for students and staff who wish to join.

“As Director, I want to establish a sense of community within Chapel Choir. I want the students to love singing, enjoy what they’re singing, and to have the opportunity to carry on a legacy of choral singing,” Grace said.

Although performing is a major aspect of being part of an ensemble, building a lasting community is just as important. If Gustavus students are interested in joining Chapel Choir this year, it isn’t too late to reach out to Director Grace about the possibility. Although this year’s ensemble is at 65 students, in past years the total number of students has reached nearly 100.

“I’m really excited to be here and to have the opportunity to serve the Gustavus community once again,” Professor Grace said.

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