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BJU’s sole gendered choir creates unique atmosphere

Brundage was a charter member of Rivertree Singers, a community choral ensemble founded in 2010.
Photo: Melia Covington

The Bob Jones University Lyric Choir, founded in 2003, is the only all-female choir on campus. The choir will perform its fall semester concert on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in War Memorial Chapel. 

BJU used to have only four choirs. However, Laura Brundage, the current Lyric Choir director, said, “In 2003, Dr. Cook kind of revamped the choral program. And so we moved toward a graded choral system, meaning everybody that comes in is in a choir based on your classification.” The graded choral system also has to do with a student’s ability.

University Singers is a foundational choir, where participants get to learn choral technique and how being in a choir works. After that comes Lyric Choir and Concert Choir. The last two choirs, Chorale and Chamber Singers, will typically be composed of upperclassmen, but members of Chamber Singers must have been in Chorale in order to be in Chamber Singers. Lyric Choir was one of five choirs that emerged or was revamped in 2003. 

Junior composite social studies education major Natalie Crute and sophomore business administration major Rebecca Isaman rehearse for the choir’s upcoming concert Sing We Now of Christmas.
Photo: Melia Covington

While BJU no longer has a choir system based entirely on classification other than the University Singers choir, the principle of a choir based on classification is still somewhat important. The University Singers choir is for freshmen only so they can learn the basics of choral technique and choir protocols, but freshmen are not required to start with University Singers and are welcome to join Lyric Choir, Brundage said. 

As more women are typically interested in choir than men, this additional choir for women allows other BJU choirs to have a more even number of men and women, according to Brundage. 

Brundage is directing Lyric Choir for the first time this semester. She sang in several BJU choirs during her years as a student and currently sings with the Rivertree Singers, a local choral ensemble made up of alumni from various choirs. Prior to directing Lyric Choir, Brundage taught voice at BJU and directed the Greenville Youth Chorale. 

This semester, Brundage said the choir is singing a diverse collection of Christmas songs. “So you have old, familiar classical Christmas songs, carols,” Brundage said. “We’re doing everything from the movie themes to older Christmas texts you’ve probably never heard of to ‘Silent Night’ and ‘I Saw Three Ships’ … and things like that. There should be something for everybody.”

Lyric Choir has around 40 singers this semester, though the number fluctuates from semester to semester and year to year. “We have a lot of fun,” Brundage said. “My goal is to change the perception that it’s boring to sing in Lyric Choir or in a ladies’ choir because it’s all girls,” Brundage said. “I think we’re having a lot of fun; we’re doing some really great literature, and they’re singing at a very high level.” 

Damaris Ziemski, a sophomore English major and member of Lyric Choir, joined Lyric Choir her freshman year.  “I spent three or four years in high school singing, so I knew coming into college that I definitely wanted to continue my singing career,” Ziemski said. “And Lyric Choir seemed like a low commitment but high involvement kind of choir.” Ziemski appreciates the diversity in the pieces for this semester. 

According to Ziemski, another benefit of Lyric Choir is that it provides leadership opportunities as well as a wide and diverse range of music. As in societies, Lyric Choir has various officer positions Lyric Choir members can run for. “You can get elected as president or vice president or secretary,” Ziemski said.