Choir a winning team

By Travis Leffew

UK isn’t just home to a winning basketball team, but also a nationally respected choir.

In recent years the UK Men’s Chorus has found its place on the map in the choral world. Director Jeff Johnson holds his team to the highest standard.

“The UK men’s basketball team is at the top of their field just as the UK Men’s Chorus is at the top of ours,” Johnson said. “Despite our talent, if we don’t give 100 percent every day we are going to lose. The musical standard against which we compete is that high.”

The choir isn’t just 80-or-so men standing and singing an overdone song.

Picture it like Fox’s hit show “Glee,” without the high school drama, high school courtyard choreography and high school girls.

Each semester brings American standards to Polynesian chants and everything in between.

In addition to singing songs, the group performs them, as some include choreography.

Chorus members know there’s a time to play hard and work hard, on and off the stage.

For Jared Duncan, a choral music education senior and choir member since fall 2007, that hard work has paid off.

“Over the past five years I have devoted a lot of my time to the choral program at UK. Being a choral music education major, it has been a blessing to me to go to choir each day,” Duncan said. “Dr. Johnson has been much more than a teacher, but a friend and mentor. Being in Men’s Choir has been an amazing educational- and performance-based experience. I’ll cherish this for a lifetime.”

When the choir travels through Kentucky and the nation, it often stops at churches and schools along the way to perform and speak with spectators and grade school choir students, Duncan said.

The group attempts to show future students that being involved in choir is a great way to meet new people and new friends at college, Duncan said.

And a major in music is not required to join — in fact, about half are music majors and half are non-music majors ranging from dentistry to agriculture.

When watching one of the choir’s concerts, Ben Taylor, an Eastern Kentucky University student, was surprised with what he saw.

“I’ve never been a fan of choirs,” Taylor said. “However, after I saw the well-organized, crowd pleasing, enthusiastic UK men’s choirs, I’m a fan.”

The choir is open to all male UK students. Auditions are held at the beginning of the semester welcoming all majors, disciplines and vocal parts.

After a trip to North Carolina, the choir will host its annual spring concert with the UK Women’s Chorus March 29 at the Singletary Center.