Southeast Student takes talent to St. Louis Symphony
In the midst of her final semester at Southeast Alyssa Strauss earned a spot among 130 singers in the St. Louis Symphony Chorus.
Strauss, a St. Louis native, is a vocal music education major who is student teaching by day and rehearsing by night.
The Department of music at Southeast brought the director of the St. Louis Symphony Amy Kaiserto campus earlier this month. Voice students were able to see and talk with her about the choir and participate in mock auditions.
After Kaiser to’s visit, Strauss knew she wanted to be a part of the chorus.
“I really wanted to audition for the St. Louis Symphony Choir because I just missed singing in an ensemble because when you teach, you are really teaching your students to sing, but you don’t really get the experience of singing in an ensemble,” Strauss said.
She said being in an ensemble as a music teacher offers more experience through watching the director and applying those methods to the classroom.
Strauss student-teaches in the St. Louis area where she teaches two high school choirs, a piano class, three fifth grade choirs and a general music class.
“It’s really awesome that I get to be apart of [the chorus],” Strauss said. “I honestly feel like I am not worthy of being in it. I really didn’t think I was on their level.”
Her week consists of preparing lesson plans for student-teaching, time in the classroom, memorizing music and choir rehearsal. Practice with the choir occurs every Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m.
The St. Louis Symphony Chorus is by audition-only. Those auditioning sing one song, test their vocal range and sight reading music on-the-spot. Participants spend 10 minutes in an audition and results are given immediately.
“My audition went really well,” Strauss said. “It was pretty intimidating, but it’s cool because we learn all of that in our classes.”
Strauss found her passion for music education through her secondary music experience and high school choir which was like a family she said.
“I wanted to go into music education so I could give that to my potential students,” Strauss said.
Strauss began in choir in sixth grade then finished her high school career by being involved in three choirs. She was involved in Southeast’s university choir and an Opera production as a part of the ensemble.
Strauss auditioned January 8 at Powell Hall in St. Louis. She began rehearsals the same day. She said after hearing the news of earning a spot of the chorus she was excited and shocked.
“I went into it like ‘it’s okay if I don’t make it,’’ Strauss said. “I really just wanted the experience of auditioning and I really wanted to sing in an ensemble again, but I was pretty shocked.”
The choir is currently rehearsing three pieces which are in foreign languages including Russian, Hebrew and German.
The St. Louis Symphony Chorus will collaborate with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to perform three concerts this term.
“[Music] is one of the biggest subjects that promotes critical thinking because students are constantly thinking about a million things at once,” Strauss said.
Strauss would like to teach music and continue working with the St. Louis Symphony Choir following graduation in May 2019. Her dream is to eventually have her own choral program.