The Minneapolis/St. Paul region has a very rich choral tradition. There are a number of outstanding professional, semi-professional and collegiate choirs within a 120 miles radius of the metropolitan area. Consequently, there is a ticket buying audience for good, quality singing as well.
In 2004, the GNU was looking for an opportunity to expand the number of concerts produced each year, capitalize on the rich choral traditions of the area, expand our audience base and share the stage with male ensembles other than a barbershop quartet. We also recognized the importance of recruiting new and younger members to our ranks.
Driven by these goals and by the opportunity to leverage the relationships between the GNU and collegiate educators, the Collegiate Men’s Choral Festival was born.
Over the 10-year history of the Festival, male collegiate choruses from different, well-respected programs have participated. One choir traveled over 100 miles to participate.
In total, well over 2000 young men have participated in the Festival, some of whom have subsequently joined the GNU.
In recent years, the Festival weekend has featured an appearance by the most recent BHS Collegiate Quartet Champion. The weekend starts with the quartet usually come in on Wednesday night, then on Thursday and Friday they spend the day performing for a number of local high school choirs and music students.
On Saturday, the collegiate choirs arrive in the afternoon for a short workshop. The workshop includes the teaching of tags, a short performance/workshop by the collegiate quartet and some stage time for each individual ensemble. There was also rehearsal time for two collaboration songs to be performed by a mass choir consisting of the collegiate choirs and the GNU.
The Festival concert is structured to feature performances by each college choir, the guest collegiate quartet and the GNU. The concert ends with the two college choirs and the GNU performing the collaboration pieces.
Past participating choirs include many of the best all male collegiate choruses from the Midwest:
- St. Olaf Viking Chorus
- Luther College Norseman Chorus
- Iowa State University Statesmen
- Wartburg College Ritterchor
- University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Singing Statesmen
- St. John’s University Men’s Chorus