Jenn Catalano ’20
As a rising senior returning to Cornell in just a couple weeks, it is inevitable that I will become a bit nostalgic. Thinking back on my past three years at this university, the Chorus has emerged as the common theme of my best memories. I thought it would be timely to recount on my top ten memories from my time in the Chorus. If you are a prospective member on the fence of auditioning for the Chorus, then you absolutely should—you will be able to make all these incredible memories and more!
10. Treble Choir Conference.
In the spring of my freshman year, the Chorus hosted a treble choir conference with five other collegiate treble choirs from Mount Holyoke College, NYU, Harvard University, Smith College, and the College of William & Mary. The weekend consisted of workshops, concerts, and social events. I met so many incredible singers, engaged in very topical conversations, and became closer with members of the Chorus all in two days!
9. Co-leading my first AC meeting.
In June, I co-led the biannual Advisory Council meeting for alums and current members alongside Chorus General Manager Sophie Arzumanov ’21. Preparation for this meeting involved several calls to alums I have never met before, writing a full report detailing events and financials, and the very careful art of meeting moderation. While I was incredibly nervous for the meeting, having Sophie by side gave me the confidence to make the meeting a success and was a great learning opportunity in the process.
8. Southern BBQ.
My first tour as part of the Chorus was to the Atlantic Coast, organized by Liz Mueller ’18, traveling all the way from Ithaca to Atlanta and everywhere in between. I had only been to one of the eight cities on the tour, and I was beyond excited. One night, the entire Chorus freshmen class decided to get some BBQ while we were in Atlanta, and it did not disappoint. Not only was this one of the most fun nights I ever had on tour, but the waiter even asked us to sing a song. We all proudly and joyfully sang “Will the Circle”—a beloved Chorus classic—and we did not disappoint.
7. Meeting Joe Biden.
In May 2017, I had the honor of meeting former Vice President Joe Biden as part of Cornell’s Convocation ceremony. We were right next to the stage during his speech, and he even took a picture with us! Every year the Chorus and Glee Club sing at the university graduation in May, receiving accolades from the Cornell President and Convocation speaker.
6. Getting two standing ovations at ACDA.
In March 2018, the Chorus was invited to perform at the American Choral Directors’ Association Conference in Pittsburgh. Michelle Carfagno ’19 and Chiara Alvisi ’20 admirably led the effort to earn us the funds to travel there. Thanks to their help, not only was I able to travel to a city I’ve never been to before—attending a professional choral concert in the evening and touring the University of Pittsburgh during the day—but the Chorus received standing ovations for both of our performances. There was not a single member not beaming during the applause.
5. Getting an internship.
This past summer, I interned at a large consulting firm in Washington, DC—an incredible and unforgettable experience. Looking back, I really have the Chorus to thank. Much of my interview was spent discussing my role in the Chorus, the scope of projects the Chorus takes on, and the leadership and management skills I have gained in the Chorus. No doubt the confidence and skills I have developed in the Chorus allowed me to be accepted to and excel in this internship.
4. Performing Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
In May 2018, the Chorus and Glee Club performed the St. Matthew Passion. Never have I performed a work so daunting yet so beautiful. I will always remember this concert because it was the first choral concert my parents were able to attend, and they were absolutely blown away. I got tears in my eyes during the last movement, and I still do every time I listen to a recording.
3. Becoming an officer.
One of my favorite memories of the Chorus was receiving a phone call from the then-President Brigid Lucey ’18 alerting me that I had been selected as an officer for the Chorus. I (a bit timidly) applied for the position of Social Chair, who is responsible for planning the logistics of all social events for the Chorus—ranging from weekly get-togethers to formal concert receptions. My claim to fame as social chair, you ask? An outer-space themed afterparty following the Chorus’ tour to the Gulf Coast and the Houston Space Center—with an outer-space themed playlist of course.
2. Science presentation in Toronto.
During the Chorus’ most recent tour to Canada in Spring 2019, organized by Sophia Zhang ’21 and Dana Luong ’20, the Chorus was asked to participate in a dual science experiment and choral concert at Trinity College in Toronto. An ecstatic Chorus alum and physics professor displayed the sound waves we produced throughout the concert. I can confidently say that there are virtually no other choirs who can claim a similar experience.
1. RPCC Dinners.
While a simple memory, by far one of my favorite memories was weekly dinners at the Robert Purcell Community Center every Wednesday after rehearsal with the rest of my freshmen Chorus and Glee Club class. Coming into Cornell I was extremely nervous about making friends, but I immediately found a group of best friends in the Chorus, and I could always look forward to these weekly dinners to bring us closer and help us all find a home at Cornell.