Calvin's Women Chorale
Calvin's Women Chorale

Calvin College: Connecting Across Borders

Reaching Globally Through Music

Pearl Shangkuan directs the Calvin Alumni Choir and the Calvin Women's Chorale, in addition to teaching advanced choral conducting and choral literature. She has conducted performances and given seminars in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indo-nesia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia and Canada and has conducted all-state and honor choirs in Wyoming, New York and Tokyo. Shangkuan is also the chorus director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, past president of the Michigan Choral Directors Association and president-elect of the ACDA Central Division.

Professor Pearl Shangkuan
Professor Pearl Shangkuan

"When you program globally, it is like going to an international restaurant and having a sampler," said a smiling Pearl Shangkuan. "I think it opens our minds and our hearts to all kinds of people."

As professor of music and former chair of the music department at Calvin College, Shangkuan offers a diversified musical menu in her programming, not because it is a popular concept in contemporary education, but because, "long before the word diversity became a buzz word, the Bible talked about it."

For Shangkuan, music, like food, transcends barriers. It opens doors for communication with people from all cultures. "I include cultural pieces in my program not just so I can say, ‘Hey, we have a multicultural repertoire,' but so the choir members and listeners have the opportunity to look toward the vision of Revelation — to understand the significance of having people from every tribe, every language and every nation."

Shangkuan has done more than bring cultural diversity to campus through her programming. "It is a real eye opener for the choir, not only to meet people from different races, but denominations. I think that's probably why I do what I do. It is not just so we can mesh, but so we get a taste of what it means to belong to the body of Christ."

Calvin's Fall Music Festival
Calvin's Fall Music Festival

Expressing Praise with Many People and one Voice

Nearly 500 students perform in 13 instrumental and vocal ensembles each fall at Calvin's Fall Music Festival. October of 2005 marks the 60th year for this musical extravaganza, which is presented on two consecutive evenings in the Fine Arts Center Auditorium. The largest student event of the year, the Fall Music Festival features Calvin ensembles that have long histories, such as the Calvin Band and the A Capella (now Capella) Choir — as well as more recent ensembles, such as the Gospel Choir, Jazz Band and Women's Chorale.

Jeffrey Schra, music events manager at Calvin, says the Fall Music Festival "aims to showcase both the breadth and excellence of the college's musical offerings. But one purpose unifies the whole program: we want to make music for the glory of God." This is expressed through students' talents and gifts as they sing with the Campus Choir and Lyric Singers or play with the Calvin Orchestra and Handbell Ensemble. Music majors and non-music majors alike participate in a legacy of music-making that stretches across many decades and includes more than 10,000 alumni who were members of ensembles during their Calvin days.

Calvin's tradition of excellence in music is evident today in the study and performance of music, where high standards are maintained, and scholarship and creativity flourish. Beyond the classroom or the performance hall, music remains integral to the life of the campus, an-choring daily chapel services and embellishing special college programs and community gatherings. All are occasions for expressing a message of praise with many people and with one voice.

« Back | Next »