From hiring new professors to completely revamping the structure of the colleges, Oklahoma Baptist University has undergone quite a few changes recently. This semester, the campus’s renowned chorale groups have continued the trend, instituting new leadership for the Bisonettes and Bison Glee Club. The two groups have been a staple of OBU from their founding, with reputations and accomplishments that are a continuous source of pride for the campus—and, this year, they’re gearing up for their best seasons yet.
Dr. Kelsey D’Emilio is beginning her first year as director of the Bisonettes. D’Emilio graduated from Oberlin Conservatory, Westminster Choir College and the University of Oklahoma and began her career as a professional opera singer. She is now the area coordinator of OBU’s Choral and Vocal Studies.
D’Emilio is joined by student leader Korbynn Owens. Both expressed their excitement to be a part of the all-female singing group.
“I feel so blessed to join this wonderful community of women,” D’Emilio said. “Their love for Christ, for each other and for OBU makes our rehearsals together my favorite part of the day.”
Owens has been a part of the Bisonettes since her freshman year when she joined as a music major. “I then decided to change majors but stayed in Bisonettes because I love to sing,” she said. “Having a great director was what drew me in and kept me in there!”
“It is always hard to adjust to new directors,” Owens said when asked if the group has experienced any challenges with the change. “I would personally say we have adjusted very well with Dr. D’Emilio. She is amazing and does her best to understand what we need. She is so invested in us. It is so reassuring to know that!”
The Bisonette Glee Club was founded in 1954 and is represented by outstanding women from a wide range of music and non-music majors. The group performs both on- and off-campus, showing off their skills during chapels, showcase concerts and even on an annual tour of schools and churches.
This year, the Bisonettes will also be recording a music video to be premiered during homecoming. The video will herald the group’s season, which includes a concert at The Weekend October 22 at 8:00pm and their Fall Choral Concert October 26 at 7:30pm in Raley’s Yarborough Auditorium.
Bison Glee Club
This year, Dr. Stephen Sims has been promoted from assistant director to director of the Bison Glee Club, inheriting the mantle from former director Dr. Chris Mathews. Sims serves as Assistant Professor of Music/Worship Leadership in the division of music, and he has years of voice study, performance and instruction under his belt. Sims was also a member of the Glee Club during his time as a student at OBU.
“In fact,” Sims said, “my first year in the group was 25 years ago. I enjoy great music-making, memories, fellowship, and brotherhood among the young men.”
Bison Glee Club student leader Kyle Daughabaugh had only good things to say about Dr. Sims’ leadership. “With every change there always comes a period of transition,” he said. “BGC, on the other hand, had a smooth transition. Dr. Sims made it such a smooth transition by talking to the council and talking about our visions of the Bison Glee Club and how he wants to move forward.”
“As our university has adapted to a new academic structure, our music division has adapted as well,” Sims said concerning the overhaul in leadership. “Each of the full-time voice faculty members now direct the three choral ensembles. That has been a major change in the leadership, but the choral students have adapted very well, and it allows us voice teachers/directors to work together in a more streamlined and cohesive manner.”
Since its founding in 1938, the all-male group has been touted as one of the premiere men’s choruses in the Southwest. The group has toured extensively throughout the years, not just in the United States but also in Canada, Europe and the Far East.
When it came to picking a university to call home, OBU’s BGC was the deciding factor for Daughabaugh. “Bison Glee Club is a fantastic group,” he said. “Being on the Executive Council of BGC means so much to me. Seeing all of the work that we put in as a group and seeing our final product is just so amazing! I love walking with these men in Christ and seeing all of the things that God does in their lives. If any guy is manly enough, I’d suggest you join BGC!”
The BGC is preparing for another exciting season this year, according to Daughabaugh. They will be performing in their Fall Choral Concert October 26 at 7:30pm in the Yarborough Auditorium as well as the Hanging of the Green December 4 at 7:30pm in Raley’s Potter Auditorium.
As for the rest of the year… “We have big plans this year, and we are so excited to share with y’all,” Daughabaugh said, “but I can’t spoil anything right now!”