In ‘tune’ with Seton Hall choir

“Smile for Hile” has been a beloved motto of Seton Hall’s University Concert Choir and Vocal Chamber Ensemble for years. Now, it has become a central catch phrase of this year’s spring concert, commemorating choir director Professor Jeanette Hile’s 40th year as a music educator and 30th year teaching at Seton Hall. The concert is also dedicated to the memory of Bobbie Boulware, former accompanist of the choirs and music professor, who recently passed away.

The phrase “Smile for Hile” has been used to encourage choir members to smile during both performances and rehearsals alike. This year the phrase has even been engraved on custom-made pencils distributed to all choir members for music markups as they prepare for their concert in Jubilee Hall on Saturday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m.

Hile has given a great number of students a reason to smile these past 40 years, as many students have attested to Hile’s devotion, sympathy and persistent energy. Hile has worked diligently with her students, nurturing their vocal talent and touching their lives on a personal level through her many stories of inspiration and hope, which she routinely incorporates during practices. Hile has offered students, faculty members, alumni and community members that extra boost of encouragement — a critical element in making powerful and emotional music.

For Hile, rehearsal time is not just a time of perfecting notes and memorizing words, but of enabling members to connect and understand the music.

Jessica Arnold, Seton Hall alumna and accompanist of the choir, is one of the many individuals who has been touched by Hile’s passion for teaching and music.

Arnold began studying under Hile when she was 14 years old and explains the impact that Hile has had on her life.

“Working with her is an honor and a privilege. She is one of the people who taught me to love music and love working with other musicians,” she said.

An accomplished vocalist and violinist, Hile not only taught her students about music, she has shaped Seton Hall’s choral program immensely, bringing the group to new heights and prestige.

Notable accomplishments the choir has achieved under Hile’s direction include the group’s performance in Rome before Pope John Paul II and then before Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu on campus.

Stefani Greco, assistant director of the choir, graduated from Seton Hall 16 years ago. A middle-school music teacher herself, Greco explains what has been for her the most meaningful part of working with Professor Hile and the SHU choir.

“It’s so rewarding to me to be able to work hard with the Choir on a piece, and it crosses over from just singing words and notes on a page to actually creating music – and we’re all connected to it and feel that emotion together. It’s a powerful feeling, and I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to ‘come home’ to the Choir and Professor Hile,” Greco said.

The concert this Saturday will include a collection of pieces selected by Hile that have personal meaning to her and the group during her time as a music educator.

“Many of the pieces that she chose have to do with a specific event that she’s experienced with the Choir, from the Papal Invitation to Rome and singing under the baton of composer John Rutter at Carnegie Hall to concert tours that have been taken to Canada, Boston and Washington, D.C.,” Greco said.

Greco added that other pieces represent Hile’s family, friends and her deep faith.

“It’s a musical summary of what she’s accomplished in 30 years of being at SHU, of who she is as a person, an educator and mentor to so many students whose lives she has touched over the years,” she said.

Right before the start of exams, the Seton Hall Choir’s free Spring Concert offers students and members of the Seton Hall community an excellent opportunity to honor two individuals, Professors Hile and Bobbie Boulware, who have played important roles in shaping this University’s music program.

Emily Lake can be reached at emily.lake@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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