Michael Boswell ’94 and Harris Ipock ’10 sang on the album “Sacred Spirit of Russia,” which won a 2015 Grammy for Best Choral Performance. This album was performed by the choral group “Conspirare,” a professional choral group on the Harmonia Mundi label based in Austin, TX.
Boswell is an associate professor of music at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. He teaches applied voice and serves as the director of choirs. Ipock is the resident conductor of the Harvard Glee Club at Harvard University.
After winning the Grammy, Boswell said he felt “elated! It is always a wonderful experience to work with director Craig Hella Johnson; so just collaborating with him is satisfaction enough. But it was also wonderful to delve into this deeply spiritual repertoire.”
“Singing in Conspirare has been an experience beyond any of the wildest dreams I had while growing up,” says Ipock. “It’s hard to explain, but there’s something there that is felt by both the performers and audience that extends well beyond the realm of music-making. The Grammy was a very well-deserved token of recognition for the great things Conspirare and director Craig Hella Johnson have done for choral music.”
The singers met when Ipock was singing a concert with Conspirare at a conductor’s conference that Boswell was attending. They began singing together on the “Sacred Spirit of Russia” recording project. They have also sung together several times with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale.
“I always enjoy making music with people who have an ECU connection, because it’s nice to talk about my experience there with people who also know the place well,” says Boswell. “It is always a pleasure to work with Harris!”
Though they attended at different times, Boswell and Ipock both decided to attend ECU for similar reasons.
Boswell says, “When I was deciding on a college, ECU had a reputation of having one of the best music programs in the state. Because I had grown up close to Greenville, I attended several summer choral camps, which allowed me to get to know some of the faculty at that time. Given the reputation, familiarity, and proximity, it was the perfect choice!” Boswell majored in vocal performance.
Ipock chose ECU to pursue a master of music degree in choral conducting, after completing his undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill. “I decided to take a shot at becoming a choral conductor, and enrolled a summer program in conducting led by the Director of Choral Activities at the time, Dan Bara. Within a few hours of the first day of the program, I knew I wanted to study with him. I don’t think I applied to any other school,” says Ipock.
While at ECU, Boswell and Ipock both participated in the Chamber Singers group.
“I am proud to have been a part of the ECU Chamber Singers under Dr. Rhonda Fleming,” Boswell says. “It has been great to see how that ensemble has evolved over the years to become the prestigious group it is today. I also participated in Opera Theater every semester after my freshman year.”
Ipock says, “As a conducting student, the core of my experience was with the East Carolina University Chamber Singers. By the time I entered school, the Chamber Singers had already garnered a national reputation as a superb collegiate choral ensemble, a distinction which they still enjoy today.”
Boswell says, “I am very glad I went to ECU! When I was a student, I always respected my professors, but I had no idea just how much they were providing me and how much I learned from them until I found myself teaching and performing as well. I still recall things they taught me and can safely say I would not be where I am today without them.”
“I can say without a doubt that my decision to attend ECU directly resulted in the success I’ve had so far. I’ve been extremely fortunate, and have had some incredible experiences and opportunities over the last several years, and have my mentors and colleagues at ECU to thank for making it possible,” says Ipock. I still keep in touch with some of the current faculty and students at the school of music. I also follow with great admiration and pride the continued success of the ECU Chamber Singers on Youtube and Facebook.”
By Sara Strickroot