The Singing Collegians show choir was formed on a strong foundation over half a century ago. But the name and the concept had become a bit outdated. This summer was the perfect time for the ensemble to do a reboot, to become a little sharper, a little edgier.
“The name Singing Collegians wasn’t resonating as a contemporary show choir among today’s students,” said Dr. Carol Dusdieker, director of the School of Music & Theatre and associate professor of voice.
But all that has changed. With intentional student participation and buy-in, the Singing Collegians have re-invented themselves with a new name and an exciting new focus. The Hei-Notes, under the direction of Dr. Margaret Thiele for the second year, debuted at Opening Convocation in late August.
Students brainstormed possible new names and voted on the eventual winner. “We wanted to cultivate student ownership and excitement,” Carol said. And that’s what they got.
Hei-Notes represents more than a name change; it’s also a re-invention and a rebranding. The 16 performers believe the new name perfectly reflects the personality of the group and its goals to be dynamic, high-energy entertainers and Heidelberg ambassadors on campus and beyond.
“Our group has moved more to a ‘musical theatre ensemble,’” said senior Hei-Notes performer Gavin Hubbard. “We are doing a lot of modern, well-known musical theatre songs,” he said.
Third-year member Holly Berger added, “I’m excited about many of our new musical selections. The group has grown this year so you should expect a stronger sound.”
This year’s group will be comparatively unrecognizable. “We are a lot larger, the dancing is full of energy and our show is altogether more exciting,” Gavin said.
Margaret, the director, further explained the modernization of the group, whose program is now based around a thematic concept. “We just felt that to be more relevant to today’s students, we needed a change,” she said. “So rather than just sing and dance, we will be telling a story around a theme … communicating a message through song and dance,”
The Hei-Notes’ first public performance will be Oct. 6, when they join the Marching Band for the halftime show at Heidelberg’s football game vs. Marietta. They’ll be one of the featured ensembles at the School of Music & Theatre’s Extravaganza Concert on Nov. 2 and will perform “Songs of Courage,” based on their theme this year, prior to the theatre performances of “Macbeth” Nov. 8-11.
To add even more excitement, Margaret brought on a new choreographer, Pam Shirtz, to work with the Hei-Notes. “She’s doing a fabulous job in helping us share a message through our choreography.”
The ensemble’s repertoire this year includes You Will Be Found from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hanson and This Is Me from The Greatest Showman.
“We can’t wait to showcase the group on recruiting trips and for campus events such as admission Fall Fridays,” Dusdieker said. “They are now an ambassador group for the School of Music & Theatre.”
Hei-Notes is open to any student regardless of major, and prospective students can earn participation scholarships.
You can also catch the Hei-Notes performing as part of the School of Music & Theatre’s Joy to the World: A Heidelberg Christmas Dec. 9 at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Tiffin.