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"Measures" of Opportunities and Honors

February 5, 2019 | by Ariel Pokett

Briar Cliff’s own choir, Cliff Singers, has begun the semester with big plans to spread the passion of music within the charger and Siouxland community.

The singers have upheld many traditions for many years and have a fun experience in the process. Many have enjoyed the Prayer of St. Francis, the Briar Cliff Hymn and a few concerts annually. Yet, not everyone has been able to enjoy the voice that is Briar Cliff’s Singers. That is why this year, Dr. Sean Burton has planned the 2019 spring semester with opportunities for students and staff to attend.

First, the singers will be performing the Campus Appreciation concert at 3:30 p.m., Thursday February 14. In the following weeks, the singers have the honor to perform with the Sioux City Symphony at the Orpheum Theater at 7:30 p.m. on February 23. Later in April, the singers will be present as we honor the new president during the Presidential Inauguration. Not only is Burton excited, but his students shared their anticipation too.

“It’s quite a privilege,” said sophomore singer Luke Griesel, “With how small our choir is, and to have them come to us? I’m honored.” Griesel also commented that while he’s disappointed that the choir is not going on the tour that the singers have gone on the last 10 consecutive years, he’d much rather get the Singers name out there instead. He shared that he’s enjoyed his time in the choir and he owes thanks to Burton for making it so.

Burton has been teaching at Briar Cliff for 12 years, after the position had been turned over several times. Burton’s journey to Briar Cliff started in high school, when he had the opportunity to sing in a festival that changed his whole perspective during his sophomore year. According to Burton, “That was when I really got the bug, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. We were working on Mozart Requiem and it was at that moment I decided I wanted to be a teacher of music.”

The discovery of his passion surely reflects in the choir’s repertoire, as Burton attempts to stay true to classics and devotional sacred music. He’s still mixing it up; however, as he’s added a musical theater piece to his set list that both him and the singers are excited for. Alongside the new music roster for the semester will be a collaborative piece written by Stacey V. Gibbs, and Shawn Kirchner.

Senior Jamie Ramirez, nursing major, commented “Stacey had written this piece and because we had worked with him, we are one of the first schools to be able to perform it. So, that’s a really huge honor for us. The piece has this feel of who we are as a choir, the diverse people that have come together and become a family.”

Gibbs worked with Briar Cliff personnel last spring during a special workshop, which opened the door for “No Color” to be written. According to Burton, “the piece talks about these divisions which have always been around, and unfortunately probably always will be, but it talks about no color, no shade, no tone; why are people so obsessed with the difference in skin tone, why is that relevant?” As part of the commissioning group, Burton feels very passionate about the work.

Burton doesn’t have any definite plans for the 2019 Fall semester but hopes to tour again. “My plan is to tour most years. When you talk to other colleges and universities, most don’t tour. Touring becomes less special if do it all the time.” He plans to remain as adaptable as possible, and of course is always looking to add singers to the family.

Briar Cliff Singers encourage community members to attend various events throughout the semester.

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