GVSU Varsity Men’s Glee Club brings semester ‘full circle’ with winter concert

GVL/Hannah Hill
The Varisty men’s choir performed Saturday, December 9, 2017 led by director Judy Roelofs.

GVL/Hannah Hill The Varisty men’s choir performed Saturday, December 9, 2017 led by director Judy Roelofs.

Jenny Adkins

Opening with the celebratory Quaker hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing” and closing with “Praise His Holy Name,” the Grand Valley State University Varsity Men’s Glee Club concert was all about coming “full circle.” The concert, which took place Saturday, Dec. 9, was held in the Cook-DeWitt Auditorium.

The concert was centered on three musical themes, including Americana, songs of reflection and holiday music. While songs like “Deck the Halls” and “Praise His Holy Name” were seasonal, the other songs performed were an accumulation of work and concerts the group had performed prior to this concert, baritone Max Elkiss said.

“We do a lot of concerts throughout the year,” Elkiss said. “Essentially, this final concert that we have at the end of the semester is the culmination of all of the music we’ve prepared throughout the semester. It’s like a wrap-up.”

For Elliott Jones’ song “Under the Wide and Starry Sky,” bass Lewis Russell played a flute to accompany the group alongside accompanist Brian DeYoung. 

Russell said his time in the limelight was intimidating but important.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking at first because you’re obviously someone who is being singled out and everyone is looking at you in that moment, but it’s really exciting at the same time,” Russell said. “You get to be featured (and) add a different color to the ensemble that wouldn’t normally be added just by singing.”

Elkiss’ favorite moment was performing “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?” to cap off the Americana section of the concert. Elkiss said with the song, which was high-energy and complex, he was able to let loose around his peers.  

“’What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?’ is just hysterical,” Elkiss said. “It’s like you’re with your buddies and you’re being funny on stage, you’re singing and you’re just having a good time. It’s also a difficult piece, so it’s not just fun to do, but it’s very impressive to do.”

Closing the night with holiday music, the men dropped their music and swayed to Keith Hampton’s “Praise His Holy Name.” After the men clapped through the song and filed out of the auditorium, there was one resounding hope, Russell said: that the audience had fun.

“I hope they just had a good time and enjoyed the music,” Russell said. “I’m one for believing that music can be interpreted in multiple ways. … Although the final song was a gospel piece, we wanted people to think of everything in their lives that they were happy for and feel blessed.”