Students singing in concert

Brenau Music Demonstrates Resilience

Dec 6, 2021
Brenau Staff

Though in singer’s masks, the ensembles of Brenau University’s Department of Music opened the doors to our community with successful live performances in fall of 2021. The Vocal Chamber Ensemble opened our fall concert series with the first live public performance in the Redwine Lobby of the Burd Center for the Performing Arts since February 2020. It was also the first time many had witnessed the superb artistic work of our new choral director, Dr. Ashley Conway. 

The Gospel Choir, under the direction of Portia Burns, WC ’12, uplifted and encouraged our first live audience in Hosch Theatre in spirit and sweet music. Before the Thanksgiving break, our Holiday Concert showcased our Spectrum Singers, the Vocal Chamber Ensemble, the Gospel Choir and our faculty with the Gate City Brass Quintet and at the piano.

Dr. Rachel Holmes was a guest clinician for the departmental Professional Seminar guiding Brenau vocal majors in techniques for interpretation and communication in their vocal solo preparation. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Steinhaus’ Arts in Health Care class was visited by Louise Shaw, project director/curator of the David J. Sencer CDC Museum in Atlanta. Her observations about how the museum exhibits both the history of the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the major artistic installations depicting communities affected by disease and healing, reveal the impact on visitors to the CDC Museum. Dr. Steinhaus also represented Brenau University as a community lecturer speaking about the advantages of use of the arts, particularly music, in brain development, healing and wellness.

Dr. Ashley Conway

The Vocal Chamber Ensemble, under Dr. Conway, has been invited to present a lobby performance at the Georgia Music Educators In-Service conference in Athens, Georgia, in January. Dr. Conway has visited many regional high school choral classes this fall as a choral clinician. The junior music education majors learn from her experience as they are completing their initial teacher observations. Haley Rosales and Amelia Lathem were admitted into the teacher education program last summer. Both served as student conductors in the recent Holiday Concert.

During the fall, we also initiated new members into our Mu chapter, founded in 1911, of the National Honors Fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon. Mr. Ben Leaptrott serves as faculty advisor. From its inception, this professional music organization nurtures both academic and artistic achievement. The students at Brenau find that their initiation offers immediate comradery with the music majors as well as with the greater student body. 

Suzanna Durand performs at Honors Convocation

Our current chapter president is Suzanna Durand, a senior music major and  theatre minor. Her unique experience at Brenau has given her opportunities for leadership, musical and dramatic creativity, and friendships. Her capstone recital is scheduled for Feb. 18; and for her capstone she will serve as theatrical director for our spring Opera Workshop. In spring of 2020, she assisted with dramatic direction, costumes, and sets/props for our in-house opera workshop. Durand hopes, upon graduation, to develop both music and theatrical opportunities for young people where she will teach applied voice, and drama classes.