On May 3, the Mount’s Choirs will perform "Take Me to the Water"—a profound expression of community and everlasting solidarity.

The MSJ Choir sings in the Mater Dei Chapel

Mount St. Joseph University’s Choral Program will present its final concert of the Spring semester, called "Take Me to the Water," on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in the Mater Dei Chapel at 7 p.m. Admission to the concert is free, and the Choirs welcome family and friends of the Mount Community to attend and experience an evening of story through music.

“The performance will begin with a love story, full of joy, hope, and heartbreak,” says Director of Choral Activities Kelsey DeMange. “Our story of love will conclude with a special dedication to the memory of our dear friend, Lee Thomas.”

To DeMange, the MSJ Choir is uniquely close-knit and talented, and she is grateful to be involved. She, in fact, arranged a piece for the concert expressing this solidarity titled “Turning Page,” which features the Mount’s String Quartet, led by Allison Oakes, and student soloists Sharon Bader and Karletta Banfield. This piece and its lyricism, for DeMange, evoke an almost spiritual feeling of connection between its composers, performers, and listeners.

“The lyrics, ‘nothing prepared me for what the privilege of being yours would do,’ are a reminder to my students of the honor I feel every day to be a part of their journey here at the Mount,” says DeMange. “The musicians in the choirs here have something unique about them, and that is their shared experiences with each other. Together, we faced a reality we never imagined would be, and as a result, the music we now create has taken on a higher purpose.”

Modeling after the Sisters of Charity, and “daring to risk a caring response,” each choir member found this higher purpose and banded together to cope with the loss of a member. When the choir reunited for rehearsal the Monday after the tragedy, they chose to sing “Aura Lee” in honor of Lee Thomas.

“The choir sang the tune in the Chapel while a dreary, and cloudy day was outside,” DeMange recalls. “As the choir sang the lyrics, ‘Sunshine came upon with thee, and swallows in the air…’ the sun instantly burst through the windows of the Mater Dei Chapel. Knowing our dearest Lee was singing with us, our music became our healing, and our time together became valued beyond our expectations.”

The power of community is prevalent in MSJ Choir, which consistently empower each student to connect with others and provide the confidence and community to sing with spirit. Aside from the vocational and occupational benefits a choral experience could offer, it is this engagement with music that brings people together and elevates them to new heights and meaning.

"Take Me to the Water" is no different, as audiences will be “transported” to the water by the choral music, honoring the Ohio River that flows by the campus.

The prelude to the concert will be performed by senior Alexandra Huston, who will be singing Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Timothy Zang will be joining Huston in their final senior choir performance in the Mater Dei Chapel.

“Congratulations to both musicians on their accomplishments and years of contributing their talents to the performing arts department!” DeMange extols.

In a profoundly symbolic ode to the immortal and rebirth-like nature of water, this concert will serve as a metaphor for ends and new beginnings. Outpourings of the soul flow eternally, and in this way, members, staff, and faculty of the Choirs, as well as each of the listeners, will be brought together—stronger, and refined by brokenness.

“It is an inspiring mix of music that will encapsulate the enlightening message to have courage, that the storm is passing over, so let us journey on!” exclaims DeMange.