Josh Groban gives Otterbein ensemble opportunity of a lifetime

Posted Sep 03, 2019

A group of Otterbein students and faculty got the experience of a lifetime when they performed with Josh Groban at his Columbus concert on June 13.

“Singing back up for Josh Groban was a once in a life time experience and I’m so glad I got to share it with a group of people who all share a passion for music,” said senior Anna Ehret.

When it came to setting up this opportunity it was all about making connections.

Keyona Willis, senior lecturer at Otterbein University, had a friend connect her with the person responsible for arranging for local ensembles to perform at Josh Groban’s concerts. She became a point of contact and had a short turnaround time to get an ensemble of 20 people — mostly Otterbein students and faculty — together to memorize several pieces with only one rehearsal time.

“I was blown away by how professional and on point everyone was to get ready for the concert. It takes a lot of focus and dedication to pull something like that off. Everyone was wonderful,” said Willis.

It is common for performing artists to use local talent in each city where they perform if they have songs that require a choir or supplemental orchestration. And it’s always a thrill for the local musicians chosen.

“The experience of getting to sing with Josh Groban was unreal. The whole audience was singing along and had their phone lights shining — it looked like a sea of stars,” said senior Savannah Schakett. “Josh was extremely welcoming and we all shared a sort of comradery while we were onstage. It was a night I’ll never forget.”