A few years ago, in a little mountain village in Italy, the A Cappella Choir moved to tears a crowd who didn't even speak English. The concert was standing room only, and the applause was thunderous. It was an experience no one in choir would ever forget, a performance more meaningful than the ones in huge Roman cathedrals.
Moments like this demonstrate the power of music to Director Mark Babcock, associate professor of music. "I witness on a daily basis that music transforms students," he says. "It helps them to connect to each other. It helps them connect to bigger ideas than themselves. And it helps them step out of mundane existence into things that are more grand, more beautiful and more life-giving."
The auditioned 60-voice group is a staple at campus events; at the Second Reformed Church in Pella, where they often perform; and around Central Iowa. They tour annually—next year to Brazil. "Choir is very much a cultural experience, just as much as it is an artful one," says Ian Michel, a junior biology and Spanish major from Decorah.
Babcock says the choir is constantly performing at different locations around Iowa. They have a couple of major events each month. It's what makes Central stand out from other schools, where the choir may only have one or two big events a semester, and only in the campus auditorium.
But what truly makes the A Cappella Choir unique is the people. Michel met his best friend in choir freshman year, a common experience for choir members. The group includes students from many different majors; Michel calls it a "giant melting pot of campus." The sense of community resonates with everyone in choir. "Coming together, we create something more than we can do on our own," says Chloe Gearhart, a sophomore from Newton. "It speaks to the artistic value of the group."