Vox Lucia vocal festival comes to GAC

Colleen Coleman-

On March 15th, the music department will host the Vox Lucia Vocal Festival for Leadership & Singing as a part of the Bjorling Music Festival series, an all-day experience for high school soprano and alto students to hone their musical talents and leadership skills through work with nationally renowned composer Jocelyn Hagen and Gustavus’ Vice President in Mission, Strategy, and Innovation, Dr. Kathi Tunheim. The festival will conclude with a performance in Christ Chapel at 7:00 p.m. The festival throughout the day will include special music performed by Lucia Singers, the Gustavus Choir, and Kaleidoscope Acapella. The Gustavus choirs will be welcoming over 200 high school singers onto campus to experience a collegiate music experience and inspiring mentorship.

Hagen is a local Minnesotan composer, nationally recognized for her work. The Gustavus choirs recently worked with Hagen for the 2023 Christmas in Christ Chapel performance, commissioning an original setting of What Child is This. Hagen will not only work with the festival choir on the performance pieces, but will also lead sessions throughout the day based on her “Compose Like a Girl” initiative, which focuses on amplifying female-identifying composers, and redefining what it means to do something ‘like a girl.’

During her 17 years at Gustavus, Tunheim has helped form many organizations, such as Gustavus Women in Leadership, Gustavus Mentoring Program, and the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup. Tunheim leads a life of leadership and advising, throughout her career at Gustavus and beyond, focusing her work on leadership development. Both Hagen and Tunheim will lead sessions throughout the day focusing on what it means to be a woman in leadership as a musician and how to be one in the world we live in today.

Throughout the day, Gustavus students will be working with high school singers to learn two Hagen pieces, focusing on hope and renewal as well as female empowerment. Hagen as well as Gustavus choir directors Dr. Brandon Dean and Dr. Andrew Kendall will work with the festival choir throughout the day on the music, with Hagen joining the choirs at the piano for the performance at the end of the festival. “One of the main things we are focusing on for the festival is empowering women through music and how important that is and always has been,” Sophomore and Member of the Gustavus Choir and Lead Vocal Music Assistant, Liv Erhardt said. “People can look forward to learning and connecting with other sopranos and altos in MN, and getting a taste of Gustavus choirs,” Erhardt said.

Gustavus students look forward to welcoming the high school singers onto campus and getting to sing with them throughout the day. “Coming to an honor choir festival at Gustavus my junior year of high school was an incredible experience, and it feels so special to now be on the other side of it,” Member of the Gustavus Choir and Kaleidoscope, freshman Abi Biermann said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the high school singers and getting to share our music with them,” Biermann said. “I’m so excited for the festival as a chance to connect with other sopranos and altos and work with Jocelyn Hagen, who’s an incredible composer,” First-Year and Member of both the Lucia Singers and Kaleidoscope, Lauren Carrier said.

The Gustavus choirs look forward to welcoming over 200 high school sopranos and altos onto campus on March 15th for the Vox Lucia Vocal Festival, with a day full of music and learning with globally renowned musicians and mentors. Their evening concert will conclude the festival at 7:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel. They invite everyone to stop by and watch!

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