Rowan Music Department hosts annual Tenor/Bass Festival

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Tenors and Basses practice during one of their multiple rehearsals in Pfleeger Concert Hall. — Staff Writer / Sarah Shockey

On Oct. 18, 650 high school students gathered in Pfleeger Concert Hall for the annual Tenor & Bass Festival. An event that first kicked off at Rowan in 2008 welcomes tenors and basses from across 52 schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware to participate in a day full of rehearsals, performances, and of course, singing. 

The festival started at 8:30 a.m. with check-in and warmups, followed by a group sing-along and multiple group rehearsals. The students also got the opportunity to hear Rowan choir students and faculty members in action as they treated them to two separate performances. To conclude an eventful morning, the teenage vocalists gave a final performance right from their seats in the concert hall at 1:15 p.m., while their teachers watched from the stage facing them.

Director of Choral Activities Christopher Thomas has been the host of the festival for the past 11 years. He says that the event is a great way to demonstrate the unique qualities tenor and basses bring to a choir, especially since they typically don’t get the spotlight.

“Historically or just as a general rule, there tend to be fewer tenors and basses that want to sing in a program than sopranos or altos,” said Thomas. “It [Tenor/Bass Festival] supports teachers in their quest to make singing more meaningful and enticing to the basses and tenors that are in their programs.”

Rick Dammers, dean of the College of Performing Arts, also acknowledges how incredible it is to hear all these young vocalists perform together. 

“It is really unusual and special for so many vocalists, especially tenors and basses, to be able to sing together at once,” said Dammers.

Besides uplifting and showcasing the talents of the students who participate in the festival, the event is a great way to recruit possible new students.

“It’s just kind of a big event that we’re recruiting, we’re generating goodwill, and students are getting excited,” said Thomas, “We’re showing off our program and the kids go home with more energy.”

Dammers also says how the event highlights the music department at Rowan while exposing students to it for the first time.

“All of the participants bring that excitement back to their school choral programs, and they leave campus knowing what a special choral program we have here at Rowan,” said Dammers.

The combined efforts of Thomas, along with the countless Rowan students and staff who volunteer their time to work the event, prove this year’s Festival is yet another success, bringing together young voices from around the region to produce a masterful final performance. 

“The students that show up are learning music, singing, building camaraderie, and their voices while we [Rowan] showcase all the talent we have here,” said Thomas. 

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