For as long as I can remember, I’ve been singing. When I was a little elementary school kid, the classes I looked most forward to weren’t mathematics or PE, but music. Now, 16 years since I sang in my first choir, that mindset hasn’t changed. During my four years at The College of Idaho, I have performed with every choral group the campus has to offer, including Chorale, Chamber Singers, Major Sixth, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and even a student-led African choir. And to this day, my involvement with music has taken me places I’ve never expected to go.
When I first came to the C of I, what terrified me the most wasn’t my classes, but my social life. In the summer between my high school graduation and my first day as a Coyote, I dreamt very vivid nightmares of eating lunch alone, looking at everyone else and their friends. I quickly learned that I had no reason to worry, because when I joined choir, I had more than just new people to perform with: I had picked up a giant extended family. We’ve always done more than sing together—we’ve laughed together, supported each other, and ultimately worked as one to perform to the best of our abilities.
Just like any family, we’ve traveled to many places together. In addition to our four regular performances at Jewett Auditorium during the school year, we’ve had opportunities to sing across the state of Idaho. We’ve taken regular recruitment trips to Treasure Valley high schools. We were invited to Sun Valley to perform at a music education convention. We’ve collaborated with the Boise Philharmonic and Master Chorale at the Morrison Center to perform classical masterpieces like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, my first time ever performing with a complete orchestra in one of the Northwest’s best music halls. We performed the national anthem at C of I’s first home football game in 37 years, and we’ve gone caroling in downtown Boise during the winter months. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have found so many opportunities to share my favorite hobby in my own backyard.
My favorite memories are from the Chamber Singers’ tour of New York City two years ago. It’s not every day a small group of singers from Idaho gets invited to perform at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Eric Whitacre, one of the 21st century’s most prolific choral composers. Not only did I get to attend Broadway shows, get lost in Chinatown, reach the top of the Empire State Building and stand in the center of Times Square, I also had the great honor to sing modern masterpieces at the most prestigious performance center in America. This spring, we are making a trip to the opposite coast in San Francisco. This will be my final trip with the choir, but I’m not sad—I’m thrilled to have one more opportunity to create musical memories to cherish.
On a personal level, choir has done nothing but improve my experiences at the C of I. The rehearsals are frequent, and they keep me busy, but I’ve grown as both a person and a performer. Dr. Brent Wells and the rest of the choir drew a confidence out of me that I never knew was within. I’ve been featured as a soloist on numerous occasions and, this spring, I’ve been cast in the titular role for the theatre department’s spring musical production, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Four years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of having the confidence to perform in such a spotlight. My choir family has allowed me to bask in that spotlight instead of shy away from it.
My time with the choir hasn’t just made me a better performer; it’s made me a better person. I will carry these memories with me long past commencement in May.
I will keep them forever.
-Clayton Gefre '15