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Vocal performance freshman lands spot on elite A Cappella Choir

Vocal performance freshman lands spot on elite A Cappella Choir

Vocal performance freshman lands spot on elite A Cappella Choir
September 13
16:37 2019

While balancing school work and extracurriculars, vocal performance and music education freshman Dmitry Tyshlek sings as the only freshman in UNT’s A Cappella Choir. 

Tyshlek has been involved in music since he was in the fifth grade as an orchestra member, but started choir and vocal performance during his freshman year of high school. He said he initially joined choir because the group was going to Italy, but ended up falling in love with the art and carrying his passion into college and his career. 

“Before that, I had never sang a note in choir,” Tyshlek said. “But after hearing our first concert and listening to the top groups at our high school, I really fell in love with this different music form and I continued to grow and get better at it, leading me here.”

UNT professor and director of choral studies, Dr. Allen Hightower, said it is uncommon to have freshmen in the UNT A Cappella choir and the last time a freshman was selected for the group was two years ago. He said Tyshlek contributes a unique voice to the choir, as he has strong low notes as a bass. 

The UNT A Cappella Choir sings one of their pieces during rehearsal on Sept. 9, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes

“[Making the choir as a freshman] happens very rarely because the talent pool is very high,” Tyshlek said. “You have to be able to show your ability to sing, sight read and read technical literature at an advanced level, but you also have to show that you’re accountable and willing to come prepared to every rehearsal.”

In order to join the elite performance group, Tyshlek had to audition for both the music school and the A Cappella Choir. He auditioned for the music school in January and then at orientation he found out he could audition for one of four choirs. 

“My journey to get into the top choir was nerve-wracking,” Tyshlek said. “It was my very first choral audition at this school, so it was fast and intense. Everyone in the room was older and talented.”

As members of the A Cappella Choir, students get the opportunity to explore multiple types of music within the classical realm. Hightower said the variety of music that they are exposed to is important in expanding their musical knowledge because a wholesome experience is essential to creating well-rounded musicians.

“Over the course of a year, we will address multiple styles of classical music,” Hightower said. “There are different time periods of music. Students can gain a deeper understanding of musical style based on the time from which it comes and where it geographically originates.”

Tyshlek said that the group is prestigious, hard to be selected for and is a rigorous program that prepares students for the real world of music. Vocal performance junior Eddy Juvier said A Cappella Choir fosters an environment that allows vocalists to be the best they can be and explore the possibilities that they have as performers. 

“I always knew that I wanted to be a musician, but the UNT A Cappella Choir has shown me what kind of musician I want to be,” Juvier said. “That is [a musician] whose goal is neither money nor fame, but just the humble goal of spreading the message positivity and love to all who would care to listen.”

While improving their skills and voices, Dr. Hightower also wants the students to have a community amongst themselves outside of the choir room. 

“One of the goals in coming to North Texas was that we would be very intentional about building a sense of community,” said Hightower. “I think that students share a balanced sense of creating a professional-level musical product, but also in a way that is commensurate with their college experience.”

Juvier said this community has helped the members of A Cappella Choir to grow as performers.

“From the encouragement and wisdom of our professor and conductor, Dr. Allen Hightower, to the day-to-day camaraderie with other fellow members, this choir, filled with so many talented and kindred spirits, is just the kind of place where a lowly shrub can become a strong oak tree,” Juvier said.

The A Cappella Choir’s next performance is at UNT ChoralFest on Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. This event will consist of five of UNT’s choirs, including A Cappella Choir, University Singers, Concert Choir, UNT Men’s Chorus and UNT Women’s Chorus. Every choir will perform two pieces at this event and the A Cappella Choir has been working hard to prepare for this annual event. 

As the choir looks toward their performance at ChoralFest, Tyshlek looks forward to growing as a vocalist. He acknowledges that the A Cappella Choir will help him reach his goals because of the great faculty and talented students. 

“Through competition with my peers and through good instruction from my private voice instructor and other faculty in choir or opera, I will get better,” Tyshlek said. 

Featured Image: Freshman performance major Dmitry Tyshlek, center back, sings during the UNT A Cappella rehearsal on Sept. 9, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes

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Maria Lawson

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