First show choir comes to UNI


Panther Pulse

Panther Pulse Executive Team


On a cold and rainy day, a conversation in a car between friends became the idea from which Panther Pulse was born. One of UNI’s newest student organizations on campus, perhaps with an idea that should be up there with some of the oldest. Panther Pulse is currently UNI’s only co-ed show choir on campus, and they’re calling all musically inclined, performance loving students to come out and join.

“Anyone that has a passion for music, wants to be able to perform, and wants to be able to do this type of thing, we absolutely would love to see them,” said Leah Toom, President of Panther Pulse.

UNI has a long history with show choir.. The Men’s Glee Club is, of course, the much loved and, until this semester, most recent point in UNI’s show choir history. Their holiday show is always highly anticipated, with a tendency to sell out as soon as tickets are available. But even so, a group of students found that campus lacked a creative space like the Men’s Glee Club, meant for anyone and everyone.

This had not always been the case for UNI. AmmUNIition, created in 2009, and the Union Connection from the 1980’s are two other co-ed show choirs in UNI’s past that had brief lives as student organizations on campus. Whether they faded into obscurity or lost members over the years due to disinterest remains to be seen, however, Panther Pulse has risen to fill the hole and give new life for the next generation of college show choirs.

Before coming up with the idea for Panther Pulse in a friend’s car, Autry Fasnacht, a sophomore communications major, public relations minor at UNI had been regretting something. He mused to a friend that he’d missed his chance to be a part of show choir in high school. He had been in choir since kindergarten, but there is a resounding difference between the two that, for both Fasnacht and Toom, begins and ends with a singular word.

“It’s quite literally a show,” explains Toom. “There’s singing, there’s dancing, there’s lights, there’s music, there’s sound effects.” On occasion, Toom even referred to the participants in show choir as cast members, equating the experience to a production.

But, Fasnacht’s reflection ended in query rather than abrupt realization of a missed opportunity. ‘Why not?’ he asked. Why wasn’t there a co-ed show choir? A place for people to do what college is all about and try something new. A place for those who did show choir in high school to continue out their love for it in college.

“It hurt to have to leave that part of me behind,” Toom said. As a former member of show choir herself, she stressed the importance of anyone being able to continue something they loved in college as well. She said she didn’t want kids to feel that because high school was over, so was what they loved. “We really want to bring this experience into the college world,” Toom said. “Maybe they want to get back involved with it if they were in it in high school. Be able to still keep doing the things they love without having to worry about, like, ‘Oh, I’m not actually in high school anymore. It’s just done for me.’.”

Panther Pulse has gotten off to a rocky start due to the unusual circumstances this semester revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent change in the American Choral Director Association’s guidelines that recommends a thirteen-foot distance between singers, also makes it near impossible for rehearsing, much less performances. But the group of dedicated students behind Panther Pulse hasn’t allowed that to slow them down. Reasoning that the situation this semester is not likely to see much change, they’ve redirected their efforts elsewhere as they focus on community engagement, social media outreach, planning and fundraising.

“What we’re planning to do is focus on fundraising and some virtual game nights throughout the semester,” said Fasnacht. There are already plans for trivia, auditions and informational meetings, the first of which was set for Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Maucker Union Ballroom. They also have high hopes that the state of campus will turn around in time for next year, so they can finally start rehearsals for a possible apocalypse-themed show.

If you’re interested in making history as a part of Panther Pulse, you can reach out to any of the officers at [email protected]. You can also follow them @pantherpulse on Instagram and like or message their Facebook page under the same name for updates.

For those students who might be hesitant, skeptical or scared, Toom stated, “I want people to know that even if they don’t think they would be good enough to do something like this, they absolutely are. Everyone is welcome to, just, try…It would be so much more than just saying, ‘Oh, I heard about it, but I never actually thought I could go do that.’ You absolutely can. Anyone can!”