Six students sing in BJU’s official vocal performance ensemble

The Opus 6 ensemble will perform on Saturday, April 12, at 5 p.m. in War Memorial Chapel. Opus 6, the official vocal performance ensemble of the BJU voice department, is directed by Dr. David Parker and Mrs. Christa Habegger of the music faculty. Habegger is also the accompanist of the group.

Opus 6 is a musical term for a six-member group. And this particular group is made up of six students: two sopranos, one alto, one tenor, one baritone and one bass. The sopranos are faculty graduate assistant Markel Toler and junior voice performance major Olivia Daniels. Kristin Frazier, a staff graduate assistant, sings the alto part, while Stephen Rinard, a junior voice performance major, sings tenor. The baritone part is sung by freshman music education major Michael Eldridge, while the bass part is sung by fellow freshman music education major Michael Seibert.

Although the ensemble’s concert does not have a specific theme, Opus 6 will present “a musical banquet of small ensemble treats from the Middle Ages to the present,” according to the announcement. The group will present a variety of pieces, including madrigal pieces; Czech, Russian and German duets; spirituals and folk songs. One of the pieces, titled “Italian Salad,” is a spoof on opera and uses a lot of Italian musical expressions, Habegger said.

Habegger said the smaller group is a good way for students to better showcase their skills in music. “The students have a lot more individual responsibility in Opus 6,” she said.

Toler enjoys getting to work with a smaller group. “I loved my time in the larger choirs, but there is something so special about being in a group of six with such tight harmonies,” she said.

Seibert enjoys the challenge of singing in this ensemble. “I really look forward each week to singing the music we are preparing,” he said. “The music is quite challenging, yet very fun to sing.”

“We have some really beautiful music this year,” Rinard said of the upcoming concert. “We also have some fun music that I think the audience is really going to enjoy.”

Parker said, “Opus 6 will perform many types of literature that no other choral group on campus performs — from ancient to modern, serious to fun.”

Habegger said most of first semester is spent preparing the group for a surprise appearance in the Museum & Gallery on campus and the Museum & Gallery at the Heritage Green downtown.

The idea for Opus 6 came after Habegger, along with fellow music faculty members Mrs. Laura Brundage and Mrs. Pam Dunbar visited Appalachian State University for a regional National Association for Teachers of Singing convention in the spring of 2009. At the convention, a quintet of graduate students caught the women’s eyes.

“We talked about it and said, ‘Our department can get together a group of students, and we can have our own little ensemble that will be different from the choral experience,’” Habegger said.

Brundage put the proposal on paper, and Opus 6 was born.