Dozens of voices echo off the vaulted ceiling and stained glass of the Iglesia la Soledad. Smiles occupy the faces of the Costa Rican locals sitting in the pews. As harmonic tones vibrate from wall to wall, the audience hangs on every note, captivated by the melody’s will.
In an instant, silence is summoned by the gesture of a hand.
The crowd stands and applauds as conductor Craig Zamer turns, bowing to them with a smile spanning from ear to ear.
Zamer is the director of choral activities at Tech and is beginning his 16th year at the university this fall.
He recalled his love for music taking root at the beginning of his high school career. Zamer said, “It’s where I felt like I fit in. In middle school, I definitely had a rough time, but through music – through singing – I kind of found my confidence, and I kind of found my thing that I love to do.”
In high school, Zamer participated in his school’s Madrigal choir, whose members donned 16th century style outfits and only sang music from the same era.
Later, he joined honors choirs and had his musical horizons expanded. “Being in those larger choirs—it was those experiences that I found extremely impactful to me, and ultimately I found what I wanted to do in my profession,” Zamer said.
Having his eyes open to a denser catalog of music and feeling more culturally enriched by it, Zamer finds it important to give students a similar experience through his leadership and music choices.
A former student of Zamer, Isabel Berry-Womack, said, “I really respect Dr. Zamer because he always tried to incorporate different kinds of music every single semester in Chorale. Not only does he incorporate foreign pieces, he gives you background and story to all of them.”
An example of this diversity appeared when Tech Chorale ventured to Costa Rica in the spring of 2022. They performed songs like “Congorí Shangó” and “Zancudo con Dengue,” which were easily recognizable to local audience members. Zamer recalled, “Our audiences just lit up. They were electrified by the fact that we sang something from their country.”
Aside from leveling cultural barriers, Zamer believes music can offer students the same comfort it brought him at a young age. He said, “Ultimately, my goal for my ensembles is for them to feel like a place where students can have that feeling of belonging. Students, even here in college, can struggle with where they fit in, so I treat my ensembles like a family.”