The University Singers, BJU’s freshmen choir, allows members to form lifelong relationships by building a fun, diverse community.
Dr. Pattye Casarow, the director of U-Singers and a faculty member in the Division of Music, said she has been directing the group ever since she came to BJU six years ago. Prior to that, she was the director of choral activities at Clearwater Christian College.
“I had freshmen through seniors in my choir [at Clearwater] whereas Bob Jones has the graded system,” Casarow said. “They gave me the freshmen choir and since day one I have loved it. I’ve been doing U-Singers since I got here and I’m hoping to do it until I retire.”
Casarow said U-Singers is open to all freshmen and first-year students. “They don’t have to be music majors, and [choir] is a great place to get to know a group of people who also love to sing and love music,” she said.
Dr. Ken Renfrow, the accompanist for U-Singers and another faculty member in the Division of Music, said he has worked with U-Singers for 14 years. “It’s really my favorite thing,” he said. “I love it so much. I had only met [Casarow] when I had gone to Clearwater to do an Artist Series. … I got to spend a week there and got to know her a little bit.”
“She had known about me for many years, and when she got hired to come teach here … she just texted me out of the blue and she said, ‘Do you want to come meet my choir, the U-Singers?’” Renfrow said. “And I texted back and I said, ‘Well, are you fun to work with?’ She said, ‘No, I’m a real drag.’ And I said, ‘Okay, sounds like a match made in heaven.’”
“So we really get along well and I really consider her like a sibling honestly,” Renfrow said. “She’s just a really good friend, and we just enjoy working together. And we love the freshmen. They’re our favorite thing.”
Renfrow enjoys the chance to influence young people. “I think what I really enjoy about the freshmen is that they’re very impressionable and very personable,” Renfrow said. “What’s neat about freshmen is that they’re discovering their way and figuring out their major and still are not really far from high school. And so they love the sense of community [that comes with choir].”
Noah Nelson, a freshman currently in U-Singers, said he has been able to connect with other freshmen in choir. “U-Singers is a bunch of fun-loving people who love talking to one another,” said Nelson. “And [we love] singing with one another too.”
Ethan Hall, a sophomore and former member of U-Singers, said a lot of his friends were in choir last year and those relationships were deepened through spending time in choir together. “The actual concert was a blast, and the tech rehearsals were really fun,” said Hall.
He said first-year students should join U-Singers while they can. “It’s fun,” Hall said. “You only get one year to do it, so you should because you’ll regret it if you don’t,” Hall said. “The other choirs are cool, but they’re not as fun as U-Singers. So join U-Singers.”
Casarow said U-Singers does not have many open positions left for next semester, but students can still audition for a few remaining openings.