Ewha catches tunes with history 1
Ewha catches tunes with history 1
  • Lee Ji-hyun
  • 승인 2011.09.01 11:55
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Ewha students aiming for perfect harmony since 1998
“University Chorus for All Majors” is one of the professional courses that all Ewha students can take to improve sight singing skills, learn basic knowledge of vocal methods, and perform at the Ewha chapel. The history of the course started in 1998. “University Chorus for All Majors was programmed by professors of the College of Music and Ewha Womans University Church to teach traditional Italian chorus music to students,” said Kim Dong-keun, the Chapel Musical Director and a professor who has been lecturing for the course for 13 years.
Nowadays, courses similar to the University Chorus for All Majors are prevalent at several universities, but it was considered innovative and refreshing in Korean society 13 years ago when Ewha professors first pioneered it. As a result of their efforts, the chorus lecture remains popular among Ewha students.
Up to 25,000 students have taken the course during the past 13 years and as many as 45 percent of graduates passed and received credits for the course. Every semester, 500 to 600 students take the course, with 881 students attending the course last semester.
In class, students learn how to read musical scores and tune their voices. Classical, traditional, and demanding choral pieces such as Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus are selected for practice. “High standards are settled from the beginning to achieve magnificent improvements for the students by the end of the semester,” professor Kim said.
 Students are divided into four vocal types; soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Each group, consisting of six students, must pass four practical tests and perform on stage during Ewha chapel five times. Students are also obliged to hand in two musical reports. Students will either pass or fail depending on her overall performances.
“In practical tests, I look at the tone, tune, musical phrase, and how well students blend into the choir as well as the overall breadth of the style of repertoire,” professor Kim said. “But most importantly, I listen to the harmony.”
Since the class is an open lecture for all majors, the sound coming out from the crowd may seem inharmonious and rough. “We have students who are from science, business, and other disciplines all across campus, only a few have had singing and chorale experience and most of the students are amateurs who do not have ear for music,” professor Kim said. “But, the sound radiating from their voices has a certain tenderness and sincerity different from those of the music majors, as students all come together for love of singing.” 
“After working with tough and competitive majors, University Chorus for All Majors was a breath of fresh air. I gained a valuable memory of voices coming together and making a beautiful ensemble I can never make by myself,” Hong Joo-young (International Studies, 2) said. 
The course is not only fascinating to Ewha students but also to students in other universities and exchange students who come to Ewha. A male student from Yonsei University once enrolled for the class through the cross-credit registration system. Professor Kim recalls the student as tall and good looking, crammed alone in a room full of 200 or more girls. “He had a low pitched voice that disrupted the flow of harmony so I made him do a solo performance,” professor Kim said.
Although most of the songs are hymns that are practiced, the purpose of the lecture is not to preach religion.
“As a Christian, I was able to receive a lot of energy and faith from the class because most of the songs were praises to God,” An Han-na (Art and Design, 2) said. However, professor Kim states that he wants the class to become an entertainment for students. “I had three Muslim students who took the course last year who told me they enjoyed singing and performing at Ewha chapel.”
Students who listen to the performance of University Chorus for All Majors say it is very attractive because the voices carry softness and femininity while at the same time containing power and force. Female students singing low key notes such as tenor and bass, conventionally sung by males, make the chorus sound unique.
“After passing the course last semester I have been looking for a chorus group I can join as an extracurricular activity. The lecture was an introductory of a harmony in music I cannot forget,” Kim Yu-na (Chinese, 3) said.

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