Here’s something you don’t see every day: Students asking a professor for more work.
“Based on encouragement from some of my students, I wanted to put together a group of really qualified singers who can do music at a really, really high level,” said Jerry Bierschenk, explaining his motivation for founding the Voices of Fort Worth, a choral ensemble that will be performing at the Renzo Piano Pavilion in the Kimbell Art Museum on Saturday.
The 20-member chorus (10 men, 10 women), which performs without instrumental accompaniment, is made up mostly of former students of Bierschenk, who is the director of choral activities at Texas Wesleyan University. Four current students are among the participants.
“We are an undergraduate program, so there are some limitations as to how far we can go with our students. But there were some singers who wanted to continue and meet new challenges,” said Bierschenk, who directed the Texas Boys Choir from 1996 to 2005.
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One of those challenges is learning a lot of repertoire in a lot of languages. In its performance at the Piano Pavilion, Bierschenk said, the group will be singing about 17 pieces of music in Latin, French and English, among other languages.
“The first half of the program will be in foreign languages, but the second half will all be in English,” said Bierschenk, adding that the works offered range from Renaissance pieces to American spirituals and choral works by contemporary composers.
“This music is stimulating to musicians like us. It allows us to show all of our abilities,” said Emily Davis, a voice teacher, Wesleyan student and member of the ensemble along with her brother, Johnny Maples. “So it is rewarding to be in a group where we are singing all different time periods. And every voice is beautiful.”
The ensemble, which Bierschenk founded in 2012, will be the first vocal group of its kind to perform at the Kimbell’s new venue.
“I have a good sense of the room. And I think it is going to be really nice,” Bierschenk said.
But the real payoff for Bierschenk and Davis is the final product.
“The journey is exceptional. But the end result of performing in beautiful venues and creating music and art is just wonderful,” Davis said. “It is soothing to the audience and to us as well.”