Evangeline Colarossi — Staff Writier
Each year, new students bring fresh voices to Dordt’s variety of choirs. This fall found new voices and a new conductor for Bella Voce, Dordt’s all-female choir. Dr. Carrie Groenewold, Associate Professor of Music and university organist, fills her time with almost a dozen organ students and Tuesday evening choir rehearsals.
Along with teaching the organ students at Dordt this semester, Groenewold teaches Music Theory III and Ear Training I. She has also assumed the position of conductor for Bella Voce. As a graduate assistant at the University of Notre Dame, Groenewold accompanied and occasionally conducted the female choir there.
“There’s something about female voices and singing in two, three, or four parts that’s just a gorgeous sound,” said Groenewold.
The female choirs do not have a gendered mix of voices, but she finds there is still a beauty in the ranges that the singers combine as a whole. One female choir is not always like another, though.
“There’s just something special about being at Dordt. There’s something about (students) engagement in their courses and cocurricular, like Bella Voce. No matter what majors the singers are coming from, they’re one hundred percent with you. I think that level of dedication that level of dedication is rare. You don’t see that very often.”
Groenewold doesn’t just hear a chorus of voices each Tuesday evening, but also sees the spiritual maturity of the singers. Each week a student has the chance to share a devotion with the choir, whether that is a [selection of] scripture, a thought, or a prayer. Groenewold says that witnessing this spiritual growth and openness over the semester is a reward in itself.
Bella Voce sang a variety of songs at the Defender Days Concert, which is exactly what Groenewold wanted. She believes a variety of styles is important. Multiple genres, languages, and historical era of pieces are incorporated into the repertoire for Bella Voce, as a means to round out each singers’ understanding of music as a whole, and widening their+ musical perspective.
“It’s good to know about the standards (of music) and experience those as well,” Groenewold said. She views the piece For the Beauty of the Earth she views as a standard for women’s choirs, but also melds well with the seasonal time of the year. Other pieces the choir performed gave them exposure to living composers and various stylistic periods.
“In a way, it’s a little surreal, that I have the opportunity to get on this stage and conduct. It felt like a huge honor and privilege, maybe like a dream. I was humbled.”
Since her days as a kid participating in Dordt Discovery Days, Groenewold has found a comforting place in the music department of Dordt. Her first exposure to the organ was at Dordt Discovery Days, and she started taking lessons from Dr. Joan Ringerwole following the camp. Though she lived and taught other places before now, she says that God directed her life “full circle” to be here again, but as an instructor this time.
“This place has always felt like a second home to me. This experience has been a mixture of new, but also familiar.”