Zoe Collins (A18) is a student at St. John’s College in Annapolis, and leader of the contemporary choir.
St. John’s College: What is the contemporary choir?
Zoe Collins: As the name suggests, we sing contemporary choral music. The composer Eric Whitacre is one of our main goals to work up to, because pieces by him are pretty complicated. They have a lot of dissonances that you aren’t going to find in classical music or renaissance music or anything that we sing on the Program.
SJC: How did the musical culture at St. John’s inform the group?
ZC: Lauren Berlin (A18) and I both did contemporary choral music in high school. When we came here we were really excited about how much music was available to us, but we missed that new, modern, sometimes a little more difficult musical outlet. There’s no place for modern music on the Program, so we wanted to sing stuff to supplement that.
SJC: Who is one of your favorite composers?
ZC: Eric Whitacre is great. I also like Moses Hogan. He’s a really popular composer and we would like to sing some of his pieces. He does gospel, but it’s contemporary iterations so it’s big, extravagant stuff that is going to sound more modern but usually has traditional religious lyrics.
SJC: How did you personally get interested in music?
ZC: My parents really wanted me to listen to classical music when I was in elementary school, so I was listening to classical music then. I didn’t really know about pop music because they didn’t expose me to that—or listen to anything other than NPR. There was a CD called Beethoven’s Wig, and it was classical songs, really famous ones, with funny, cute lyrics to them. I started to learn the different composers then.
SJC: How could a student get involved?
ZC: We are looking for a pianist right now, someone who can play pretty well and is willing to do that not so much as a soloist but working along with the choir and director. Unfortunately, we have already held the auditions, and the only way to get more people would be another person in each of the four sections.
We are going to hold auditions again next year in the first few weeks of school, so if you like what you hear at Collegium or if you want to get involved, definitely come audition for us. We are looking to expand the group, and the more people we have the better because we could do more complicated and exciting pieces.
—Sasha Gesmer (A17)