Rare opportunity: Esteemed composer Howard Helvey coaches Chamber Choir
In preparation for a concert on Sep. 24, the composer held a workshop for the group to give them pointers on music he composed.
Bethel College had the honor of hosting composer Howard Helvey this past weekend. Helvey is an internationally recognized and in-demand composer, arranger, and pianist. He is particularly well known for his choral music. His compositions have been performed in institutions like New York’s Carnegie Hall, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Rome.
Suffice it to say, Bethel’s ensembles are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a seasoned professional.
Last Friday, shortly after arriving on campus, Helvey facilitated a clinic in Krehbiel Auditorium with Bethel’s Chamber Choir (a select group of 16 soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices).
The time Helvey and the Chamber Choir spent together allowed students to get a more in-depth understanding of the music they were singing. It also gave Helvey the chance to hear his music in action – a new experience for him with the “Three Teasdale Madrigals”, one of the pieces the choir will sing on Saturday. He said it was a joy to hear in person, and complimented the choir on their expressive performance.
One of the most interesting things Helvey shared with the group gathered was his composing regrets. Despite being a master in his field, Helvey has made several of what he would call mistakes in his creative choices. That being said, to the untrained ear, his music is complex yet clear, emotional yet accessible, heartbreaking yet beautiful, and by all means flawless.
This workshop totalled 45 minutes, but Bethel’s time with Helvey is far from done.
Also on Friday, as a part of the Plymouth Fine Arts Series, Helvey took part in a dinner and lecture at Plymouth Congregational Church in Wichita, Kansas.
This Saturday, the Bethel Chamber Choir will perform music composed by Helvey (the same music workshopped on Friday) at 7 p.m., also at Plymouth Congregational Church. The performance will also include the Plymouth Congregational Choir, several soloists, and organ music performed by Chris Shaw.
Howard Helvey wanted to thank the Bethel community for their hospitality and said of the Bethel choir students that “they are dedicated, disciplined, and so talented.”
He also wanted any aspiring musicians to know that the process takes time and energy – but “if you have the passion for it, then you have everything you need.”