The Old Courthouse. Lambert International Airport. Busch Stadium.
For 51 young men, De Smet Jesuit’s choir is their team, and these are some of the locations where they compete. “The boys like to think of choir as a sport. But because ensemble-based performing arts groups don’t have opponents or games, they don’t receive feedback or have an end goal to work toward unless we go out into the community,” said Ray Sherrock, Choir Director.
Like an athletic team, the choir spends hours practicing, though they call it rehearsing. They run drills and take assessments using Smart Music, a software program on their laptop that records their vocals. “Coach” Sherrock often reminds his singers that “practice makes permanent, not practice makes perfect. Nothing is ever perfect, but when you practice singing regularly, it becomes something you keep doing.”
Performing in the community helps students learn how to respond to audiences and also tests their ability to memorize the music. At the airport, they never know what to expect. “Every so often, passengers stopped to enjoy the music, or smiled as they passed by, and the boys saw the effect they had on other people,” said Mr. Sherrock.
Besides giving purpose to hours of rehearsal time, the choir’s public appearances often have a service component. They perform at the airport on behalf of the St. Louis Christmas Carols Association, an organization that supports children’s agencies. Their Christmas tour also includes a stop at a local Catholic elementary school.
On Constitution Day, September 17, you’ll find the De Smet Jesuit Choir singing patriotic tunes at the Old Courthouse in celebration of our newest American citizens. The Spartans were invited to participate in this special ceremony six years ago by De Smet alumnus, Judge Henry Autrey ’71, and Judge Rodney Sippel, father of Spartan alumni. Since then, the experience has become a favorite choir tradition. “The boys always think it’s cool to be part of the ceremony and traveling to different parts of the city broadens their perspective,” said Mr. Sherrock.
Surely that adds up to a winning record.