Shawn Kirchner Visits Campo Concert Choir

Renowned composer Shawn Kirchner visited Campo’s concert choir in the multi-use room on Wednesday April 19th. After arranging the logistics with choir director Mark Roberts, Kirchner flew in to work with students on their repertoire and answer questions about his career.

Kirchner is the composer and arranger for one of concert choir’s performance pieces titled Angel Band. The choir performed this specific song for him. After some brief critique on rhythm and syllabic stress, he skillfully accompanied the choir on the piano.

Concert choir is Campo’s largest choral group with over 100 students. “One of the most powerful things was how everyone was undeniably moved. It was one of the few times I’ve really felt the mass and power of the choir,” said sophomore Fiona Markey.

The choir was impassioned like never before, eliciting their greatest dexterity and expertise to be revealed for Kirchner to witness. Roberts was brought to tears after the first run through with Kirchner’s accompaniment, allowing Kirchner to assume a lead position answering questions in front of the choir.

Choral Director Roberts explained his rendition of Kirchner’s visit: “It was a really powerful moment for me to see students becoming vulnerable and giving in to the group. In a group as large as this choir, it’s hard to be vulnerable, so trying to get a group of people this diverse to be able to submit to being part of something bigger than themselves is a really unique experience.”

A self-proclaimed introverted and kind-hearted man, Kirchner shared much about his early experience with music, as he’s always felt deeply inclined to pursue piano. He composed his first piece at age 8, showing the choir how he still remembered it from all those years ago.

“I was inspired when he was talking about how suffering influenced one of his favorite pieces. It helped me have a visual when we were singing so I felt really connected to the song,” said Markey. During his responses, he would incorporate playing piano to demonstrate the power of theory within music.

Students learned about the importance of creativity, the ability to make mistakes, and the lack of necessity to figure out one’s life early on. “It was such a rare opportunity to actually talk to the person who composed the music we sing,” Markey remarked.

“Certain people are just inspirational and it’s hard to articulate why, but there’s something about his musicality particularly when he works with the piano as he becomes one with the instrument and is able to explain a lot of concepts through how he plays. I know that modeling and demonstration connected with students, helping them understand things on a deeper level,” said Roberts.

Stressing his late start into the music world as a composer in his mid-thirties, he assured young students of their ability to utilize all of the many years of their lives rather than worrying early on about finding a career.