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home : columnists : columnists June 22, 2017


1/18/2017 4:57:00 PM
'13 NHS grad shines in Purdue Glee Club
Photo providedNoblesville’s Aaron Corbett sings in Purdue University Glee Club.
Photo provided

Noblesville’s Aaron Corbett sings in Purdue University Glee Club.


By Betsy Reason
Editor


Aaron Corbett was 9 years old when he started singing in the St. John's Boys Choir in Minnesota. At Noblesville High School, the teenager performed in NHS Singers. He also sang in the choir at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church and studied piano and violin.

But it wasn't until he joined the Purdue University Glee Club that he really discovered his place to shine.

It was four years ago at NHS grad Roy Johnson Jr.'s Senior "Home Show" that inspired Corbett, a 2013 NHS graduate, to audition for the Glee Club at Purdue.

"I knew the second I heard them start singing that I wanted to be a part of the group," said the now 21-year-old son of Mike and Joni Corbett, now a senior at Purdue.

He will perform with the all-men's ensemble at 7 p.m. Friday at NHS. It's Corbett's Senior "Home Show," an honor for graduating seniors where they are featured in their hometowns.

"I've waited four years for this...," said Corbett, the only NHS grad currently in the Glee Club. "It's going to be emotional. NHS was where I really figured out how much I like singing."

He recalled the summer before his high school freshmen year, when NHS choir director Angie Resler "somehow found out" that he used to sing in a boys choir. "I remember telling her on the phone I didn't want to join choir...," Corbett said.

"But she convinced me to join and, eight years later, here I am. I have met my best friends through singing and choral programs."

Corbett said, "I can't imagine my life without singing."

Not only did he enjoy singing, but he aspired to be part of a group that has many strong traditions. The Glee Club members are known for donning a traditional, clean-cut look, timeless white bow-tie and black tuxedo jacket with tails, white carnations on their left lapels, and noteworthy Purdue medallion. But more importantly, men of the Glee Club have served as the college's "goodwill ambassadors" for nearly 125 years, setting themselves apart, not only in showmanship, but in character.

"Glee Club has absolutely shaped me into being a gentleman," he said. "Glee Club has lots of traditions but our greatest one is our tradition of excellence. We keep that tradition close to heart, inside and out of the rehearsal room."

He said lots of Glee Club alums come back and talk about how the skills they learned as part of the group. Even just manners and courtesies, have helped them in the professional world. "I am excited that I will get the chance to come back and be in their shoes someday."

Corbett is among 59 active singers, or 63, including the band. Membership is strictly volunteer. Purdue doesn't offer a music major or college credit to be in the Glee Club. Although academics are a priority, with members required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average, in order to perform at shows.

"Glee Club has had a massive impact on my life. It definitely keeps me on track academically and it is nice to have a support group that I can count on"

The required audition is "a little intimidating," said Corbett, who had to memorize two contrasting songs that showed his vocal abilities and perform the songs for Glee Club directors, followed by an interview with a student leader.

With Glee Club a "massive time commitment," he said "the audition is making sure that you're cut out for it."

Rehearsals are daily, and performances are weekends and some weeknights, with touring and performing during fall and spring breaks, and international performances every four years.

But the rewards are huge. There are scholarships to earn, leadership and public-speaking skills to hone and opportunities to meet and perform for audiences associated with Purdue that might not otherwise occur.

For Corbett, one of his favorite shows was a private party for Purdue University president Mitch Daniels, former two-term governor of Indiana. He also met Banana Republic clothing retailer's CEO Jack Calhoun, a Glee Club alum.

He also gets to travel. His freshman year, Corbett performed with the Glee Club in California and this year will travel to Washington, D.C., Poland and the Baltics.

Since its existence, the Glee Club has performed at U.S. presidential inaugurations, a goodwill trip to West Germany, after World War II, a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and nine European tours, along with trips to Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, China and South Africa.

Glee Club has also sang the National Anthem as many Purdue games.

"A really great lesson I have learned from Glee Club is that things will not be handed to you. If I am interested in a solo or a quartet, it's my responsibility to learn it, practice it on my own time, as well as with our assistant director, and be prepared when it is time to sing it in rehearsal or on a show," he said."

"Taking initiative to go out and seek what I want is a key life skill that I feel a lot of college students don't get. Especially, when you work for something on your own, and you work hard for it, you perform better when it's time to actually do it. This skill has really helped me in fostering my singing ability, as well as my confidence in singing."

Glee Club is in addition to his studies. Corbett is an electrical engineering major who will graduate in December, after which he plans to "move somewhere warm, at least for a while until I start raising a family, when I might move back to the Midwest to be close to home."

He said, "I definitely plan to keep singing after graduation."

Tickets are still available for Friday's Glee Club concert. Visit www.nhs-purdue-glee-club.eventbrite.com. Also, catch the Glee Club Feb. 10 at Hamilton Southeastern High School.

Audiences should also take note that Noblesville's Brian Carter, a 2014 Heritage Christian High School graduate, is a member of the Glee Club.

On a side note, former Glee Club member Roy Johnson Jr., the son of Roy and Judi Johnson, is a 2008 NHS grad and a 2013 PU grad. He graduated in May 2016 from Valparaiso Law School and is currently studying to take the bar exam in Wisconsin.

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.







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