The audience grows quiet as the house lights dim and the spotlights come on. After hours of rehearsal and bonding, 29 students who form the Longhorn Singers begin humming the chords of their opening number.
Garrett Mott, Longhorn Singers vice president, said the group is more than a choral group — it’s a family that brings together unlikely friends.
“There are people (in our group) from every single school and all different majors,” physics senior Mott said. “It really gives us an opportunity to build connections and meet people you wouldn't normally meet.”
The Longhorn Singers became a united show choir over 60 years ago after the men’s and women’s glee clubs were combined.
Now, the Longhorn Singers rehearse six hours a week to prepare songs and learn choreography for performances. English freshman Colleen Crabtree said while the group takes rehearsals seriously, they are not shy about having fun.
Crabtree said at the end of each rehearsal, the Longhorn Singers hold up their horns and face the UT Tower to sing “The Eyes of Texas.”
“It's a really good way to learn that arrangement because we sing it all the time, but also it’s just a really nice way to bring the rehearsal to a close,” Crabtree said. “That's the thing that brings us all together from different corners of campus.”
Tyler Zapata, logistics coordinator and biology junior, said one tradition he enjoys is closing every announcement at rehearsals with a pun, but his favorite is welcoming new members and building bonds within the group.
“We do a lot of special things for them and really try to make the environment warm and welcoming.” Zapata said.
For each major performance, the Longhorn Singers have “show buddies.” They draw names at random, and each member is responsible for buying gifts for the person they drew. Show buddies buy gifts for the new member each performance day and for the Friday before the performances. This is a way for members to show their support for one another and relieve the stress of show week.
Being a part of the Longhorn Singers is a large time commitment, especially near performance times. Despite this commitment, the bonds formed with fellow members are worth it, Crabtree said.
“It's the individuality and uniqueness of these people that, for me, make it all worth it,” Crabtree said. “Even this 25 hour per week rehearsal schedule (is) worth it because it's fun to hang out with them.”
The Longhorn Singers is very group focused, but performances allow them to showcase individual voices as well.
“I absolutely love making music with all of these people,” Zapata said. “I am amazed (every semester) by how talented everyone in the group is.”
Mott said he wants the people who watch the Longhorn Singers perform to see the group’s pride and passion for the University and Texas, as well as show that non-music majors can still put on a great show.
“(We’re having so much fun) out there as a group,” Nott said. “While we’re not all music majors, we are an incredibly talented group of musicians, and we put out, in my eyes, really quality product.”