MHCC’s performing arts department had its fall concerts this week, and one chamber choir student in particular stands out for hitting the high notes – literally.
Natalie Hurley is a second-year choir student majoring in education, and she’s currently exploring the thought of teaching music to elementary school students.
“My dad is a music teacher, so he raised us in music, and I’ve pretty much just been singing all my life,” said Hurley.
She’s a part of the chamber choir here, which is the smaller Mt. Hood choir composed of singers selected through auditions. She was involved in choir all four years she spent at Centennial High School, but she also enjoyed theatre classes and playing the alto saxophone in band. Hurley’s sophomore year she had to stop doing band because students were only allowed to take a certain number of electives, and she wanted to move forward with choir and drama.
MHCC Choir Director Kevin Lambert said that Hurley can reach high notes that few, if any, other students can hit. That makes her especially valuable.
“Singing higher notes is just more comfortable for me. I could sing alto, lower notes, but I just can’t produce them as strong,” said Hurley. This means that Lambert often depends on her to be the only performer singing certain notes.
“I’m okay doing it, but it’s a little scary being the only one doing a high note because then if you drop out or you crack then everyone knows it’s you,” she said.
With the Fall Term concerts happening in the midst of cold and flu season, it leaves many observers to wonder how vocalists protect their voices for the big show.
Hurley did get sick over Thanksgiving break, and said warm liquids helped to sooth her throat. Paying attention to not straining her voice in day-to-day activities, such as refraining from cheering loudly at sporting events or in other group settings, became especially important as the concert neared. She slowly recovered from the cold.
“I came to rehearsal even though I didn’t feel good, and I was still able to sing, surprisingly,” she said.
This term’s music, “Autumn Landscapes,” has especially helped to test the mental focus of Hurley and the rest of the chamber choir.
“It’s seven movements, so they’re back to back, and we’re trying not to have pitches given at the beginning of them (the pitch prompt for the right starting note), so we’re going from one piece to the next and having to think about what our pitch is,” explained Hurley.
“I really like Movement Two, ‘Clouds Are Fast Racing’ It’s really fast-paced and I like the melody of it.”
She said she also really enjoys the final movement, “Heather,” and the one where she hits a high C in the final chord as things sound eerie to signify fall turning to winter.
Aside from singing, Hurley is currently gaining experience for her future in teaching by working in the after-school care program at Columbia Christian School. Whenever she’s not at the Mt. Hood campus, she spends as much time as she can helping out in any way she can in the classrooms there.
Outside of the classroom, she enjoys photography, which she developed into a business during high school by doing the occasional shoot for friends, family and seniors. And she enjoys listening to artists such as Bastille, Bon Iver, and Colony House, and loves watching “This Is Us,” which may or may not sometimes draw her away from her responsibilities, she conceded.