NATHAN STEPHANY, TRUMPET GUEST WRITER
A new gospel choir has launched at Wartburg College. Janet Irankunda sought to bring her experience and musical background to create something unique that Wartburg students from any background could enjoy.
“Gospel music, but music in general, has always been a part of me,” Irankunda said. “I thought it’d be great to bring that back here because it’s always been a passion I wanted to share with everyone I meet.”
Irankunda, a 2019 Luther graduate with a degree in music, has served as the area coordinator for the halls of Grossman, Lohe and Founders the last six months. Irankunda wanted to create a musical organization that allowed students to exercise creativity while still being open to everyone and was easy to learn.
“I think what’s so wonderful about gospel is that it’s something that you feel,” Irankunda said. “It’s all about feelings and about joy. Your typical ensembles are great, they teach you so many things about being a musician. I think what’s fun about gospel choir is that you get to leave those rules and parameters you follow in the Lutheran tradition and get to be a lot freer with your sound, freer with your vowels, freer with your dancing.”
The first rehearsal of Irankunda’s gospel choir showed those ideas at work. There was no sheet music and no music stands. There was no piano player, apart from Irankunda occasionally plucking out a few chords and notes to aid the singers along. After some warm-ups and introductions, Irankunda taught the present singers a new song within the first 10 minutes.
Irankunda sang the melody herself, then had different parts repeat and layer their voices on top of one another. The singers moved to the music, clapped and allowed their voices to ring throughout the halls of the Wartburg Chapel.
Irankunda is looking forward to growing the organization as the semester progresses and hopes others hear about the experience and decide to check it out for themselves. “Come and sing,” Irankunda said. “Let go. Feel free with everyone around you.”
For more information about the Gospel Choir or how to join, contact Irankunda at janet.irankunda@wartburg. edu.