Alumna Kathleen Kopitzke has gone through the cycle from starting as a student in California Baptist University’s all-female choir New Song to becoming their new director.
Kopitzke said her experience as a student at CBU has shaped her philosophy about music. It was at CBU she said she delved into choir music, and conducting specifically. She performed with New Song for a year, and then with the University Choir and Orchestra for the next five years.
“I did New Song my freshman year, so I have a special place in my heart for New Song,” Kopitzke said. “That’s where I started and where I fell in love with school music.”
Kopitzke was introduced to music early on through her mother, who was a choir director. She auditioned at multiple schools but decided on CBU because of the Christian background and the opportunity to sing Christian music.
“I wouldn’t have called myself a musician at all probably until I started conducting,” Kopitzke said. “It’s a completely different medium of art. It’s not singing, it’s not playing. It’s completely different. I really fell in love with the shaping of music.”
Kopitzke pursued a master’s in conducting at the encouragement of Dr. Judd Bonner, dean of the Shelby and Ferne Collinsworth School of Music. She become the new director of New Song after she graduated in May.
“She’s intelligent and she has a passion and a love for Christ and for leading people in worship,” Bonner said of Kopitzke. “She’s gifted in those things, and I’m fairly confident that she’s going to be a great success and her students are going to love her.”
Kopitzke said directing New Song is a special honor because the late Al Clifft, founder of the New Song Choir, had been a mentor of hers. The line of directors left big shoes to fill, and Kopitzke said she wants to continue to build a warm and positive environment in the footsteps of former director Dr. Steve Betts.
“He made New Song a more mature environment for an all-girls group. He didn’t make them sound like girls,” said Kopitzke. “He made them sound like women. That’s the feel I want to go off of. I want to create a mature community.”
Kopitzke stressed her desire to hold the women of New Song to a higher standard to help them take ownership of the choir. This will be reflected through their dress and punctuality as they strive for professionalism.
She said that she also plans to take the women’s choir through music history to help them understand the music at a deeper level.