Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Behind the scenes of Miami’s treble choir

Students at Miami have found a community within the Choraliers womens' treble choir.
Students at Miami have found a community within the Choraliers womens' treble choir.

The Miami Choraliers treble choir is a womens’ group on campus. For students such as Natalie Czarnik, a first-year in Choraliers, her primary instrument is her voice.

Czarnik is a music education major with a minor in musical theater. Even if participation in a large ensemble wasn’t a necessity for her major, she’d still choose to be involved with the Choraliers.

“Whether or not it was required, I would be part of the choir because it’s cool,” Czarnik said.

The treble group, composed of around 50 students, rehearses on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each session starts with vocal warm ups like scales before practicing pieces for upcoming concerts. 

Choraliers are divided into altos and sopranos with subsections within each group. Oftentimes, the girls play games to get to know each other in a large group gathering. 

“This semester we went and performed at the Ohio Music Educators Conference, which is an invitation only type thing. It was a big honor for Choraliers to go sing and for us to experience,” Czarnik said. “We’ve been doing programs that are focused on women empowerment.” 

Czarnik detailed a piece the Choraliers brought to the Ohio Music Educators called “What Happens When A Woman Takes Power?” This song asks questions about a woman in power exploring her rights to autonomy and being heard. 

The treble choir dips into other pieces about human rights, including an upcoming concert concerning the Freedom Summer that Oxford partook in in 1964. The performance will include singing African spirituals and work songs that were popular with people of color. 

One piece the girls sang during rehearsals was “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” an African American spiritual hymn that originates in early oral and musical African American traditions.

However, the Choraliers’ director, Robyn Lana, branches out into other kinds of songs as well.

“We’ve sung ‘Ave Maria,’ which is very classical,” Czarnik said. “One thing I definitely like is our director filters in a bit of everything. Especially from an audience perspective, you’re always guessing, but somehow it all works together.”

Courtney Reckelhoff, a sophomore in the alto section, provided her input in her experience with the Choraliers.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

“I felt like I was slipping into another family,” Reckelhoff said. “I felt right at home like I just had this sense of where I belong.” 

Photo by Choraliers | The Miami Student
Members of the Choraliers have formed a close bond.

Reckelhoff went on to talk about the balance between balancing schoolwork with Choraliers. Getting caught up in schoolwork in balancing time as a college student is rather common. Fortunately for the Choraliers, the class counts as a credit each semester.

“The wonderful thing about Choraliers for me is that it is a class. It’s almost mandatory to go take a break,” said Reckelhoff. “I actually find after going into Choraliers I feel so much better.” 

Currently, the young women are conducted by substitute Anthony Tracy King while Lana is in Hong Kong. Tracy King has taken pleasure in working with the girls in Lana’s absence, though the ladies talk fondly of both instructors. 

Reckelhoff highlighted her favorite parts about working with both instructors.

“I just love when we have new directors come in. They bring in such fresh energy and a new approach to the way we function,” Reckelhoff said. “And Mrs. Lana, I love her so much. She’s like our Choir Mom. She cares genuinely so much about us and growing the program.”

Reckelhoff and the other girls in the program hope Lana will continue to instruct them year after year. They look forward to her return from Hong Kong.

Some members will travel to Italy in May to perform on a tour in a few short months. Reckelhoff is one of the members attending this trip abroad. 

“For me personally, this will be my first time out of the country,” Reckelhoff said. “I’m so excited. I really just get to sit back and enjoy it. We’re going for about 10 days. We’re moving cities I think every other day, finding different places to sing.” 

The majority of the choir will not be going on the trip since there will be a select number of people, but to participants like Reckelhoff the experience will be worth it.