UWL Concert Choir hosts end of the year formal


UWL Concert Choir on the dance floor. Photo provided by Christine Starshak.

Jessica Fitzgerald, Arts & Entertainment Reporter

On Saturday, May 6, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Concert Choir held a formal to celebrate the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. The group met at The Grand Hotel Ballroom above The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor and spent the evening taking pictures, dancing, and eating food from the catering from Howie’s and ice cream from The Pearl.  

According to the choir, the choir formal used to be an annual event. In the spring of 2020, the class of 2023 had their freshman year interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore weren’t able to have a formal. This year marks the first choir formal since the spring of 2019. 

“It feels a little crazy, especially after COVID-19 and everything,” said Ava Laukant. “It feels really nice to get to do this and get together and finally celebrate our choir.”

Laukant was a member of the UWL Concert Choir from the fall of 2019 through the spring of 2022 and was invited back to celebrate the years she spent singing at UWL. She said she was glad to get the chance to see the underclassmen who are the future of the choir now that the class of 2023 is graduating.

“As freshmen, we didn’t get to have a formal. But, before we knew that we wouldn’t have one, the idea of having a formal with all of our upperclassmen seemed like such a crazy concept,” said Laukant. “But now that we are seniors it feels nice to see everyone and imagine what they are going to be able to do after us. I wish we were able to do this freshman year so we would have been able to have those experiences then.”    

To showcase the various personalities and talents in the choir, the formal included a ceremony where the Choir Council handed out awards that were voted on by the entire choir. The awards included “Best Smile” won by AZ Bohl, “Golden Retriever Energy” won by Hunter Adams, “Best Dressed” won by Andrew McDonald, and more. 

Along with the awards presented by the council, UWL Professor and Director of Choral Studies Christopher Hathaway presented two awards. The first award, “Chorister of the Year”, was voted on by members of the choir and was given to UWL senior Hannah Friesner. The second award, “Most Improved Singer of the Year”, was decided on by Dr. Hathaway and was given to UWL senior Jessica Fitzgerald. 

UWL freshman Kaleigh Kunkel said the award ceremony was her favorite part of the formal. “It was so cool hearing what other people won and learning things about their personalities that I may not have known before,” she said. “I loved watching people win and seeing the joy on their faces when they accepted their awards.”

Kunkel was the recipient of the “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day” award and says it was important to her to be recognized amongst the choir. “I absolutely love it. Being around these people that I call family gives me energy. Being able to dress up and have fun and be with friends and sing and dance and be my authentic self means a lot to me,” she said. 

The Choir Council was in charge of planning and preparing for the formal. Duties included organizing catering, communicating with the venue, collecting money for tickets, purchasing decorations, and more. Vice President Steven Reigh said that while it was a lot of busy work over the year, it was all worth it.

“I just love seeing everyone here dressed up and having a good time. It was so nice to be able to take pictures together. Honestly, I’m just glad that almost everyone is here. I love the fact that we can get together one more time and have fun before the summer,” said Reigh. 

As the future president, Reigh said he is open to opinions and feedback for the formal going forwards, and that he hopes to bring it back as an annual event. 

Reigh said bonding experiences like the formal are important for a choir. “There is rarely a time in the choir where we are individuals. We have to blend almost every time that we sing,” he said. “There is so much that we have to do together whether that’s dynamic or tempo changes that we have to count correctly. I think that we are best at that stuff when we know each other better. We are kind of a family here.”