Briar Cliff choir premieres work composed by one of its own

Nathan Meendering

Music major Nathan Meendering composed an arrangement titled "Arirang" for his senior capstone project. The BCU Chamber Choir premiered his piece during the spring choral concert.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Nathan Meendering laughs just about every time he watches the footage — a family video featuring his 7-year-old self, so inspired by his church's gospel music that he springs out of the pew and starts dancing his way down the aisle.

"Yeah, my parents have lots of embarrassing videos like that," Nathan admits, shaking his head.

Fast-forward 15 years.

Now, it's everyone else's turn to be captivated by his music.

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On May 4, the Briar Cliff Chamber Choir performed the world premiere of Nathan's composition, "Arirang," during the music department's annual spring choral concert at Grace United Methodist Church.

Nathan, a music major from Sioux Center, Iowa, wrote "Arirang" as part of his required senior project — a capstone for every senior in the music department's curriculum. The arrangement is his own take on a Korean Folk song by the same title, one that hooked him while he was watching a Korean drama with his girlfriend, Danbi Kim.

"It's pretty much the country's unofficial national anthem," he says.

Nathan and Danbi met while she was studying as a foreign exchange student at Briar Cliff. She has since moved back to Korea, but the couple decided to stick together in what just might count as the longest distance relationship in Briar Cliff history — at least until graduation.

After that, Nathan is headed to Seoul, South Korea, where he landed a job teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).

“It's a great example of the quality work that's come out of our department.”

— Choir director Sean Burton

"It's not music," Nathan says, "but it's a way for me to get over there." His dream is to produce music for TV shows and movies. He's well on his way.

When music professor Sean Burton saw the quality of Nathan's work, he was convinced the choir should premiere the piece at its year-end concert.

"Nathan did such great work on the project, and the timing was right, so I thought it would be perfect for our students to perform," says Burton, the Gilchrist Foundation Director of Choral Activities at BCU. "It's just a great example of the quality work that's come out of our department."

Sunday's concert will also feature "Hail the True Body," an original work by Gabriel Alves, a recent BCU alum. Alves received a full scholarship and graduate teaching assistantship in jazz studies at Northern Illinois University, and is currently traveling the world while working as a professional musician on cruise ships.

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