The Missouri State Chorale will be performing during the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017, and Blake Richter, ’15, will be there to record it. Richter was chosen to accompany the Chorale as videographer and will document the historic event for future Bears. We caught up with him to find out how preparations are going.
What is it like knowing you have this chance for such a cool opportunity? Did you ever think you’d get to go to an inauguration?
I feel so blessed to be able to go on this incredible journey with the Chorale. Being an alum of the group makes it even more special. I’ve been wanting to travel to D.C. for quite a while now since I have never been there, but I never thought I would be going there to sit on the U.S. Capitol Building with the MSU Chorale during the presidential inauguration. It’s so crazy that this is real!
How were you chosen to do this work?
I graduated from Missouri State with a Bachelor of Music Education and I am now the music teacher at Inman Intermediate in Nixa, MO. I also run my own business called Blake Richter Productions, which focuses on audio engineering, video production, and photography. Dr. (Cameron) LaBarr is a huge reason why my production company has been so successful. I started doing recordings for the Choral Studies Program about a year and a half ago and because of that, other choirs have had me record for them. I have worked alongside Dr. LaBarr for many projects and I’ve also done some recordings for his wife Susan, who is the editor of Walton Music. They have both recorded in my home studio as well. The day it was announced that the Chorale will be performing at the inauguration, I texted Dr. LaBarr congratulating him and he responded with, “So are you in?” About two weeks later, we sat down for coffee, talked through logistics, and it was official that I was going along to capture all of the behind the scenes footage of the trip.
Do you still know people in the Chorale?
I know about half of the members in Chorale. I graduated in 2015, so some of the juniors and seniors were in Chorale when I was in it. I have also been a counselor for the Missouri State Choral Institute for the past two years, so I know some of the freshmen and sophomores through that experience.
The Chorale performs often. Is there a particular performance that especially stands out from your days singing at Missouri State?
I was a Baritone in the Chorale from August 2011-May 2015. During that time, we performed in Germany, Paris, Scotland, England, NYC, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, St. Louis, Kansas City, and obviously the Springfield area. In 2014, we performed at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. That was the last time Dr. Guy Webb conducted the MSU Chorale after teaching at MSU since 1981. That was a very memorable and emotional performance. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the choir or in the audience.
Sen. Roy Blunt, chair of the inaugural committee, stunned the Chorale when he invited them to perform during the ceremony. Did you know before that? How did you react to hearing that you could get to go, too?
About a month before the big announcement, I received a phone call from Dr. LaBarr. He didn’t give me any information, but he said, “If I had an amazing opportunity for you, would you be able to take off 2-3 days of school?” I responded with, “Well, it depends on what the opportunity is, but knowing you and how excited you sound right now, it’s probably a pretty great opportunity.” When I heard the announcement, I had a feeling he wanted me to go along. Sure enough, after I texted him congrats, I found out that I was going to go too! I immediately told my wife, who is also an alum of the Chorale, and we both were so excited! It took a couple of weeks for me to fully grasp the idea of me going along on this historic journey. I still don’t think it has fully hit that I will be experiencing this.
The Chorale will be performing a send-off concert on January 14 at the Welcome Center on the Missouri State campus. All are welcome to attend.