Voices Sing At Black Hawk College

Written by Christopher Rannow

If you stroll through the halls of Black Hawk College this week, you may hear some faint, beautiful singing. Don’t worry, it isn’t another student playing his or her music too loudly; it’s the Black Hawk Chamber Singers–an a cappella group led by Jon Palomaki, Professor of Music at Black Hawk College. The Black Hawk Chamber Singers is a class (Music 109) offered at the college. Members are chosen only after auditioning.

Jon Palomaki has been an instructor at Black Hawk College for over 20 years. A graduate of St. Olaf in Minnesota with a Music Education degree for K-12, he went on to obtain his graduate degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. He started working in Prescott, AZ and eventually made his way back to the midwest where he began teaching at Black Hawk College in 1995. He has since helped countless students express themselves through music.

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Image courtesy of Christopher Rannow. Ensemble practices with Mr. Palomaki

He oversees the direction of three different musical groups at the Black Hawk campus in Moline: the BHC Chamber Singers, which is the a cappella group, the main Concert Choir for the college, and the Community Choir that has met every Thursday evening since the fall of 2001. “Each group has its different appeal,” Jon explains. “The program is transfer-oriented so they can take what they learn here and spread their wings when they leave the ‘Black Hawk Nest.’” With the precise organization of each group and the vast range of talent each student has to offer, it must be a very rewarding experience to help others express themselves doing something they enjoy.

The auditions are held during the first week of the term. The names of those who are accepted are posted by the second week. All members in the class are very passionate about singing, considering Music 109 is a course only worth 1 credit. That doesn’t deter these fine singers from taking the class and combining their voices in a group that brings joy to both themselves as well as those who hear them.

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Image courtesy of Christopher Rannow. Mr. Palomaki lecturing students of his Chamber Singers group during practice

The singing group performs at various times throughout the year in nursing homes and other local venues. According to Mr. Palomaki, the group performs around 12 concerts in the fall and 5 in the spring. Their next concert is coming up this May 4th at the 1st Congregational Church, 2201 7th Avenue in Moline. The concert starts at 7:30pm.

Click here, here, or there to watch a few sample videos of their terrific work. Black Hawk College is proud to have such a splendid musical group share their unique talents with the rest of the campus.