UAA Glee Club’s rhythm remains steady with the help of new music director

On a sunny Alaskan Wednesday night, about 20 students of varying ages and experience levels stood in a semicircle in the choir rehearsal room of UAA’s Fine Arts Building, belting out an a capella mashup of “Eye of the Tiger” and “The Final Countdown.” Patricia Rose, the new music director of the UAA Glee Club, stood in their midst.

Rose, at the piano, assists the women of Glee with her own arrangement of a mashup of popular songs in preparation for the club’s end-of-semester concert. Photo by Anna Berry.

Through the whole two-hour practice, Rose was on task. She occasionally stopped everyone to ask for their opinions or to give tips, sometimes playing along with a particular section that needed guidance or pointing to someone’s music if they were lost.

“[Rose is] a really sweet and caring person and she just really wants the best for everyone in the club,” Quentin Schenk, tenor section leader and long-time Glee member coming up on his sixth season, said.

She also has the leadership skill of being able to “get people in line when she needs to,” Schenk said.

These skills came from years of experience with the Glee Club. Rose initially joined the club at UAA in 2014, then returned in 2017 after a couple of years’ break from schooling and a switch to a music education major with a voice emphasis.

“[In 2014] I was on the mechanical engineering route and I realized that I wasn’t really talking to anyone all day…I wanted [the Glee Club] to sort of be an outlet for me to be able to enjoy music,” Rose said. “And it was a lot of fun, like after practices we’d still sing songs together.”

During that time, the Glee Club’s founder, Alex Pierce, was still leading the group. When Rose returned to the club in 2017, she was curious to see how it had changed under its new director, Austin Rochon.

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“It was fascinating… to see how different people lead others, and [Rochon’s leadership style] was more of a… family feel. Everyone can go to him and approach him for anything,” Rose said.

Rochon, soon to graduate with a music education degree with voice emphasis the year Rose returned, took her under his wing. He had Rose lead rehearsals when he was absent, made her a section leader and taught her how to make a cappella arrangements. Since she had several more years at school and planned to stay in the club, Rose explained, it made sense for Rochon to name her the next music director when he graduated in the fall of 2018 after two years of leading the Glee Club.

According to Glee members, Rose displayed the qualities necessary to lead the group.

“[Rose] is a very open and safe person to talk to for everyone, which is a great leadership role,” Ryan Brockman, Glee vice president and bass section leader, said.

Past articles in The Northern Light have spotlighted this open nature of the group, with interviewees describing the warm, people-focused atmosphere of the Glee Club.

“[Rochon] definitely put forth that energy and culture of it being not just a place to make music, but to make music with people who care about each other,” Schenk said.

Brockman echoed Schenk’s thoughts.

“And I think [Rose] is going to carry that on in a different way, but I think she’s still going to carry that on really well,” Brockman said.

Rose also recognizes the club’s familial focus.

“If I am able to let them enjoy themselves on stage and share their passion along with the rest of us and leave the show happy, then I think I’ve done a good job,” Rose said.

The UAA Glee Club’s next performance is on Oct. 10 in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at 7 p.m. They will be opening for the A Capella Festivella event, which is part of the UAA homecoming celebration and features a different visiting artist each year. This year’s date is still undecided.

In addition, the end-of-semester concert for the Glee Club is in the UAA Recital Hall on Nov. 1-2 at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation.

Readers who are interested in joining the club are welcome to check their active Facebook page for notices about when auditions are coming for the spring semester 2020.