When Chris Peterson was hired as a choral music professor in 2007, he started looking for the university’s song … and discovered it wasn’t easy to find.
“I eventually hunted it down, but it seemed a bit outdated and most people didn’t even know we had a song,” he said.
But rather than simply move on, he decided to write a new hymn to the university and dedicated it to the (then) new president, Fram Virjee and his wife, Julie. He called the new hymn, “CSU Fullerton Titan Alma Mater.”
“‘Alma mater,’ in Latin, means ‘nourishing mother’ and usually refers to a university, school or college where someone has graduated,” he said. “This version of the song borrows from a phrase from the original song that says, ‘Every color, creed, persuasion — finds a welcome in these halls.’”
When the pandemic hit and the majority of classes at Cal State Fullerton moved online, Peterson decided to see if he could record the song virtually.
“We couldn’t rehearse together in person so I was excited to see all the singers come together to create this video,” he said.
The singers represent the four major choral ensembles at Cal State Fullerton: Titan Voices, Singing Titans, Concert Choir and University Singers. Most of the featured singers are music majors, majoring in voice, although a few other majors are represented as well. Peterson directs the Concert Choir and the Singing Titans, Carol Aspling directs the Titan Voices, and Robert Istad directs the University Singers.
“Making these kinds of music videos is complicated and time consuming,” Peterson admitted. “I sent out the music and a reference recording, and then everyone recorded their videos at home and sent them back to me.”
Peterson then had to download each one to create the video, taking about 20 hours to edit and create … not including practice time.
“One of the ‘blessings’ of COVID-19 was that I learned how to be a music video editor,” he laughed. “I didn’t know anything about it before the pandemic.”
Knowing how much the president and his wife enjoyed the song, Peterson decided to invite them to participate, too. They quickly agreed.
He then reached out to the athletic department to see if Tuffy might be available for an appearance as well. The answer was “yes.”
And the resulting video sparked a note of beauty during a difficult year for many.