Community Choir Draws Performing Arts Lovers

Kailene Nye, Reporter

Members of the Community Choir practicing together in the Insalaco Ensemble room.

Along with the plethora of service experiences the university offers comes yet another opportunity for students—and for people outside of school—to get involved in the community.

Through the help of the fine arts department, a community choir is coming, or rather coming back, to the university this year.

According to the community choir director Matthew Rupcich, the school hosted several performing arts ensembles such as choir, orchestra and wind ensembles, and a symphonic band eight or 10 years ago.

However, with the assistance of the  president, the Center of Adult Education, and fine arts professor Ryan Weber, at least one of those is returning.

“[I hope people get] a sense of community, to realize that a bunch of different kinds of people can come together and create something special and that specialty, if you would, is called music,” said Rupcich.

Rupcich has both a conservatory degree in music education and a choral conducting degree from Johns Hopskins University and the University of Maryland.

“I want a sense of joy, a sense of fun, a sense of accomplishment, and just that they are able to understand and learn from me about this passion I have for choral music because I think it’s pretty special,” he said.

A few of the participating students and community members also had high hopes for their time with the reborn program.

“[I’m looking forward to] music and doing something I did in high school,” said community member Amber Keley. “It’ll be like going back and experiencing those feelings again and being like, ‘Oh, I feel like I’m back in high school!'”

Keley said she joined the choir primarily because music has always been a stress reliever for her and with her many responsibilities, being part of a community choir would be a perfect aid.

“I think it will impact the community positively because I was in a community choir for the holidays at my church,” she said. “We went around to nursing homes and stuff like that and that impacted them because they were all into it and they were happy that we came and sang songs to them. So, yeah, I feel like this will, too,” said Keley.

Student, Kayla Gensel also feels a sense of reliving her favorite memory from high school.

“It’ll be like going back to the good kind of high school where you’re your own self and free from stress and all the bad stuff that happens in school,” Gensel said.

“Chorus used to be my favorite part of school. I had it at the end of the day, so I was always like, ‘Yes, chorus, yes!'”

Rupcich  hopes to shine more light on the performing arts aspect of the university.

“I read something that talked a lot about what was going on with the athletics. The school is missing a part of its heart by not having performing ensembles, and I’m just really excited that I’m part of that initiative and can get that started here because I think that’s almost a core value,” he said.

“It makes us more, I want to say, more human, and humane, so I’m excited about that.”

He looks forward to learning more about the Wilkes-Barre community, as he is now living locally full-time. He said he hopes to discover more music ensembles in the area.

“[I’m most looking forward to] learning more about the community,” he said, “and learning more about the students and helping people, I guess. Understand that there is potential here, and I’m excited to be part of that and be part of that journey.”

The community choir is open to anyone in the Wilkes-Barre community. It meets every Thursday from 6 to 8:15 p.m. in the Insalaco choral room 4.

Rupcich happily welcomes everyone, with or without singing experience, who wants to join. He can be contacted at [email protected] for details.