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Going out on a high note

by LJ Evans, University Marketing and Publications

Notes from Alaska Chamber Chorale members
Alaska Chamber Chorale members shared their thoughts about what the chorale has meant to them.

Chip Davis | Richard Davis| Ken Kokjer | Brian Leffingwell | Bill O'Bar | Eva Rothman

Chip Davis
When Marvilla started the UAF Chamber Singers I participated to be a supportive husband. In adult choral groups it seems that men are always in short supply. I am not a fully trained singer but I could be an additional male participant. I soon was drawn into that world of musical beauty that results from quality a cappella choral performance.

Marvilla has a particular talent for finding challenging, yet accessible and beautiful, music that is rewarding to both the chorale and the audience. It is always, always, worth the effort. For me it has been gratifying to be a part of the ensemble and make truly beautiful music. It has been a source of true musical satisfaction. The sound, the blend, the diction, as well as the selected music, truly result in a performance experience that tugs at the heart strings.

The chorale has become a family. I don't know the exact reasons for this. Perhaps because of the consistent quality of the group there has been a core group of members that, over the years, have gained a comfort and trust level that is close to family. Perhaps it is because Marvilla assesses personality as well as vocal capability during audition of new members. Perhaps it is because we have learned that it is necessary to be mutually supportive to maintain quality and the accompanying satisfaction. Perhaps it is something intangible that Marvilla brings.

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Richard Davis
The magic of the chorale for me has been that I have found a home where I can develop and grow as a musician in ways that I find exciting. Beyond preparing for a concert performance, I join in developing and expanding my talent along with the rest of the group. In this, we all seek as our goal to make the combined sound of our voices at least on a par with that of any community-based choir in the world.

The inspiration for such a lofty goal is our director, Marvilla Davis, whose gentle correction and attention to every detail is accepted and encouraged by every member with enthusiasm. This remarkable leadership is guided by her vision of just what a choir like ours ought to sound like. In that, I think, every member seems to agree with our director. Certainly such hard work would otherwise be in vain.

After earning many honors, this spring the chorale will come to an end. Many members seem to mourn the loss and at the same time respect that the chorale will end honorably, leaving the seeds of new and exciting things to come in the Fairbanks community. I intend to continue my music studies and to perform where the opportunity arises.

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Ken Kokjer
Many of us have been in the group for years, so there is a warm familiarity and comfort. We know the chamber chorale is really good, thanks to Marvilla, so we feel rewards of accomplishment and recognition. Marvilla is simply superb at this business. She is demanding of the quality she knows we can produce, but the same time she accepts the limitations of working with an all-volunteer chorale. She is demanding but in a loving way. She sometimes chides us about not working on the music enough, but it's always in a way that makes us want to work harder for her, not resent her. Rehearsals are productive and businesslike, and yet we all have fun. There is always good-natured ribbing, humorous comments, laughs at each others' silly mistakes.

We are very supportive of each other. Individual members have gone through troubled times and the group has provided some of their support. We celebrate individuals' accomplishments when they are brought to the attention of the group. We lament the loss of members as they move away, etc. We mourn losses experienced as individuals and as a group--a miscarriage, the death of a previous member, deaths of family members.We have had several couples form and marry. We've celebrated births, marriages, new jobs, graduations. The Alaska Chamber Chorale has become my social community and extended family.

A couple of years ago, when Marvilla thought she would retire, I was really sick about losing her and the chorale. I had no idea what I would find to fill the void I knew would appear. Some of us met to explore possibilities for continuing the group in one form or another. We were extremely gratified when Marvilla announced that she just couldn't leave at that point and we'd be continuing. This time is different for me. I feel, and the consensus in the group seems to agree, that we can terminate the chorale on a high note. We will go out leaving them wanting more.

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Brian Leffingwell
The chorale is a close-knit group because we like each other and challenge each other to be better. I've been with the group since fall 2003. It will be a rewarding chapter in my life that is coming to an end. Fairbanks is a wonderful town that provides all kinds of activities for people living here.

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Bill O'Bar
I believe our success as a group gives us something in common with each other more than just meeting for rehearsals. Marvilla plays the vital role as the director, and she does it so well. It gives me a lot of pride to be part of this group, particularly knowing that, like myself, most of the people in it do not have extensive musical training and that music is only an avocation for them (us). It's also been one of the avenues through which my wife and I have met people since we moved here just 17 months ago.

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Eva Rothman
I like smaller groups like the chorale, or even smaller, because you can hear individuals better and your contribution is a larger percentage. And a cappella is my favorite mode because then it's pure voice with no distractions. Everything clicks when you get a director with excellent taste in music, who can find pieces appropriate for the group's capabilities yet challenging and exciting to do. The three-hour rehearsals fly by and I'm mentally drained when we're done, but it's such a pleasure. It's not even about being in a concert though it's nice to show off your hard work to your family and friends. I love to sing whether we're rehearsing or performing.

I have only sung with this group since January 2006. I have been made to feel very welcome as a newcomer, so it's definitely not cliquish despite how long some people have been in it.

I feel tremendously sad about the chorale coming to an end because I don't see an immediate replacement for the experience of singing like this.

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