Environmental engineering sophomore Shelbi Fuller wanted to take music classes in high school, but her education was very STEM-focused and there weren’t opportunities.
When she arrived at Montana Tech from Spokane, she was excited to audition for the choir.
“I’ve always wanted to sing, but I never had the chance,” Fuller said. “I was a little nervous at first, but it’s a great group of people. I really found my voice. I love it. It’s a good stress reliever, especially during test weeks.”
The Copper Hill Choir is a hybrid between a club and a class. The group meets on Mondays from 4:30 to 6:30 in the Library Auditorium to practice, and students get credit for MUSI 112 for participating. There also is a small scholarship awarded to choir participants.
Director Fred Crase says most people on campus don’t even realize there is a Montana Tech choir. This year, there are eight singers, but in the three years Crase has been directing, there has been up to 18 members at times. This year’s members include Fuller, Alex D’Antouno, Sarah Mootry, Jillian Winnick, Dean Summers, Ryan Hessler, Wyatt Cobb, and Bryan Brown.
“I’ve heard from students that it is a break from engineering studies and labs,” Crase said. “I would still consider it work, but it’s more creative than logical. I try to keep it collaborative as well. Even though it’s a class, it’s a creative ensemble. I try to give everyone input.”
Students perform a winter and spring concert. Winter’s performance usually is holiday-themed, but attendees won’t hear pop favorites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This year takes the concert-goer on a holiday abroad. It will include pieces in Norwegian, Swedish, and Gaelic.
“The music I pick is always a bit out of the ordinary,” Crase said.
Performances are coordinated with the Mining City Choral Union, Butte’s community choir.
“It’s easier to have them work together,” Crase said.
Knowing how to read music is helpful, but not necessary to participate.
“Almost everybody I’ve had in choir the last few years have read music,” Crase said. “They were music students when they were kids, or it’s just something they’ve enjoyed that they’ve done since childhood.”
Crase makes practice tracks so individuals can practice at home, but otherwise, the time commitment to join is a couple of hours per week. There are a few joint practices and a dress rehearsal prior to the concerts as well.
Auditions are held on the first Monday of the new semester. For more information, reach out to Crase at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s winter concert is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at UMC Aldersgate. General admission tickets are $15. Students and seniors get in for $10.