John Verkuilen ’13, a four-year football player for Macalester, also sang in and co-led the student a cappella group Off Kilter. The international studies and music major hails from Green Bay, Wis.
Before graduation, Donovam Kavish ’13 interviewed John about his Macalester career.
I was unsure entering college of exactly what I wanted to do with my life, and I knew Macalester would offer me plenty of options and opportunities. I loved the stress on academic excellence and the ability to think freely and controversially. The Twin Cities, a hub for excellent music and theater, definitely helped my decision. Since coming to Mac, I have attended the Minnesota Opera several times and heard the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Civic Symphony play on multiple occasions.
How does football fit into your college experience?
I played guard on the offensive line. Football forces a sense of maturity on you that most other things don’t. Playing a sport that ebbs and flows in success definitely requires a thorough positivity. Any lapse in your mentality can lead to a pretty quick demise. In football each player has a very specific responsibility that is part of something much larger. Working that closely with your teammates gives you invaluable skills that transfer to any group setting.
What is your role in Off Kilter?
I have been part of Off Kilter since my freshman year. I met a few great upper classmen through Concert Choir who had intended to form a new a cappella group, but they needed a bass singer. I had planned to join an a cappella group anyway, so when they asked me to be a member and help kick start the group I had to say yes. My wonderful co-leader, Bea Rendon, handles the administrative side of things, which is fantastic because she is far superior to me in that respect. My responsibilities include directing the rehearsals, working with different voice parts individually, choosing music, and arranging several songs each semester. Of the arrangements I've done, my favorites are “Goodbye Cruel World,” “May it Be,” and “Amazing Grace”/“House of the Rising Sun.” That being said, we operate very democratically in that each member has the opportunity to propose or arrange music and everybody plays a key role in the development process.
A highlight of your Mac years?
The greatest highlight has undoubtedly been the incredible people I’ve met. Macalester has given me truly extraordinary friends to grow old with. My professors are brilliant and invested in my learning. Even Brandi in Café Mac wishes me, her buddy, a “Happy (fill in the day of the week)!” That is special.
I have auditions for a few professional choirs and the Minnesota Opera coming up, and I have also applied for several church music internships involving piano accompanying, choral singing, and choral directing. After a year or two, I will attend graduate school for vocal performance and choral conducting with the goal of directing a university’s choir department or making a career of singing opera and oratorio.