When sophomore Jordan Kelberg arrived at Elon University last year and met fellow sophomore Holland Cogan, they noticed a lack of performance bands that fit their niches.
“We saw an opportunity to create something because Elon has acapella groups, Elon has a choir, but they really had nothing in between,” Cogan said.
Unlike traditional acapella groups and choirs, Kelberg and Cogan wanted to go beyond using vocal ability alone – they also wanted to do choreography. They combined these elements and worked to create a show choir.
Elon Muses – Muses for short – is the first established organization of singers, dancers and musicians that focuses on all genres of music, from pop to musical theatre. According to Kelberg, Muses’ performances are like musical numbers, but instead of a storyline tying the songs together, they’re a showcase of talent.
Kelberg and Cogan first considered starting a show choir in September 2021, but they didn’t pursue anything seriously until the spring semester of 2022 according to Cogan. In May 2022, Elon Muses was born with the help of music director and sophomore Jenny Molyneaux.
Kelberg’s introduction to music was through musical theatre, an art she has been exposed to since she could walk. She said musical theater was what made her obsessed with performing.
“I think I’m a stronger dancer than I am a singer, but in terms of loving them, any kind of performance I like to do,” Kelberg said. “It doesn’t matter what it is as long as I play.”
Cogan also began her musical journey with acting, first performing in fourth grade. Although her main focus is on singing, she said she loves performing and anything arts-related.
“I’ve always been drawn to the stage and the performance, and honestly, I feel most like myself when I’m performing,” Cogan said. “It just makes me feel alive.”
Fall auditions for the show’s choir took place Sept. 1-2, according to Elon Muses’ Instagram @elonmuses. After discovering Muses at the organization’s fair, Brooke Gustafson auditioned for the group and said the process was smooth and kind.
After the auditions, Muses now has 14 performers — Kelberg and Cogan included — who all happen to be women. Despite this, Kelberg said all genders are welcome to be performers of Muses. Cogan said more auditions will be held in the spring and no experience is required.
“We’re really looking for strong singers and then we can teach you how to dance,” Cogan said. “If you’re not a singer and want to help out with instrumentals or arrangements, we’re looking for people like that as well.”
Kelberg noted that Elon Muses’ first performance is set to take place in December, with a spring performance in April 2023. As Elon Muses begins hosting rehearsals, creating choreography and arranging songs, Kelberg is looking forward to to see the music unfold.
“I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like when I’m a senior, to see how many performances we’re going to have under our belt and how much we can grow and maybe even compete,” Kelberg said. “It’s all the hypotheses that excite me.”
Cogan said she’s been thrilled to see all the friendships formed through Muses, especially for freshmen who have found a place in the organization.
“I remember in freshman year, I was just looking for a circle of support on campus,” Cogan said. “Now I see all the freshmen so excited to be on this journey with us.”
Gustafson expressed similar enthusiasm for the band’s future, particularly possible performances and bonding with other Muses performers.
“I can already tell that we’re all going to be great friends, and I can’t wait to see what products we bring to market,” Gustafson said.
With the debut of Elon Muses, Kelberg’s goal is to make Muses a place where theater and music artists can flourish together and feel accepted.
“If I could wave my crystal ball and then go back to Elon, I would really like to see Muses become something that stays here for as long as possible,” Kelberg said. “I want it to grow and be a safe space for people who love music.”