Countless library all-nighters, cramming for exams, honestly most of us probably never thought we’d make it to this day. Graduation. And there is nothing that makes graduation day a more beautiful celebration of everything we have achieved than the band and the choir there to serenade us into our (actual) adult lives and punctuate the ceremony with incredible music, an unforgettable atmosphere and quite simply immaculate vibes. With the blood, sweat and tears it takes for us to get our degrees (definitely a lot of tears), graduation day is such a special celebration; truly it’s what got us through the all-nighters (alongside the cans of Monster). With the recent decision to remove live music from inside the ceremony, it “completely denigr[ates] the rewarding graduation experience that every student is promised, and that has been a really exciting and powerful atmospheric longstanding tradition for several decades at Warwick”, as Noga Levy-Rapoport – a member of the Chamber Choir – emphasises.
Nothing has made two third-years, who are both members of the Chamber Choir, more excited for their graduations this year than the live music
As two third-years who are both members of the Chamber Choir and have performed at 40 graduations, Noga and Ade Amusa say nothing has made them more excited for their own graduations this year, which will have an infinitely dimmer atmosphere in the absence of the screaming support from the choir in the crowd, who not only bring the true pomp and circumstance to such a momentous day, but also cheer at the top of their lungs for every single graduate. Whether you know every face in the crowd or your loved ones couldn’t make it or you’re just there for yourself, the incredible ensemble are there for you every step of the way and trust me you will feel the love emanating from their section of Butterworth Hall. But unfortunately, this year, you may not.
Following a meeting that members of the Chamber Choir had with representatives of Stuart Croft and the university management and PR team, feedback from graduates at Warwick Celebrates (the Covid replacement graduation ceremony) was that they liked the festival aspect of the ceremony and the montages of their memories displayed upon a screen. Subsequently, this year the university plan to have a screen in the Butterworth Hall that covers the area the choir traditionally stay to play these montages; montages that could arguably easily be played on the piazza screen. The university representatives did say there were larger factors at play besides the screens in their efforts to make graduations bigger but despite offers of compromise, with a smaller screen to play memories and the live band and choir coming in later in the ceremony, the university are yet to accept any proposal to meet in the middle.
The awe-inducing and unique experience of graduations, where the choir perform the Warwick Fanfare for the procession, is something we can never relive
Their meeting in the middle is to have live musicians scattered around campus but not inside the graduation hall, which is the most crucial aspect of music at the graduation experience. A comment on WarwickLove said: “The choir gave me goosebumps in the past two [graduations I attended] and I would go as far as saying it is what made graduation day feel special in the hall.” It is undeniable that the feeling you walk out with after hearing music live is something that cannot be matched, whether you’re a music aficionado or the last music you heard was the faint vibrations from POP! as you walk past the SU. It’s such a moving experience and punctuates the experience of graduating from our university so beautifully with talent from our community’s very own passionate musicians, who give up six hours of their day each day during graduation season to cheer on, uplift and support you.
Especially with this year’s graduates, who have already lost so many quintessential Warwick moments to Covid, the awe-inducing and unique experience of graduations, where the choir perform the Warwick Fanfare for the procession, is something we can never relive, and in the current situation will never even live in the first place. Most of us won’t hear this anthem until graduation but trust me it’s a bop, and as Noga says “for the first time ever I felt Warwick pride”. Sitting there being immersed in this atmosphere, surrounded by the people you saw at 4am in the library or were relieved to hear also self-certed that assignment, you won’t feel a greater sense of solidarity and community and genuine pride for our geese-filled crazy university. An iPhone recording is not going to give you that ‘I made it moment’ in the way an entire live band and orchestra of your fellow students filled with pride for you will.
I can’t summarise it better than the Chamber Choir members when they say “we bring the vibes”
Just picture it: you’re heading into graduation and instead of a grand celebration that could rival the coronation, and honestly a unique Warwick experience with a beautifully lively ceremony filled with the brass band and baritones, you just see them press play on the speakers. This can’t be something we’re willing to give up; instead of making such a momentous change this year (and stripping our current finalists of this unforgettable experience), this decision should be postponed to the next academic year until an all-student vote is held.
We should have our voices heard; crucially, the voices of the Chamber Choir at our graduations accompanied by the band. I can’t summarise it better than the Chamber Choir members when they say “we bring the vibes”.
If you want to help save the unforgettable experience of live music at our graduations please sign this petition – it takes two seconds!
When contacted for comment, a University of Warwick spokesperson said: “We really appreciate the importance of live performances as part of these celebrations. As a result of feedback from previous graduation ceremonies we are changing our live music offering. The Music Centre has been asked to work with students to co-ordinate a programme of live music in the Arts Centre and the Piazza, including the choir as well as other musicians. We will provide more detail on this in the coming weeks.
“The new live music options have been proposed so we can support other improvements to our graduation ceremonies. This applies both for those attending in person and people watching the ceremonies from a distance. We are also increasing the number of tickets available to celebrate on campus. We want to be clear that it has always been our intention to continue featuring the choir in graduation and continue to discuss next steps with the choir leaders.”