Choir and Ensemble hit high notes in concert

The TCNJ Choir and Women’s Ensemble performed to a packed Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall at its December concert on Saturday.

The audience, made up of friends and family members of the performers, seemed to be ready for an evening to put them in the holiday spirit.

The choir, which consists of both male and female students, performed first, led by assistant music professor Michael D. Mendoza.

With the boys wearing traditional black tuxedoes and the girls dressed entirely in black, several of the songs were sung a cappella, while others were accompanied by a piano.

The final song of the choir’s performance, “Jazz Gloria,” was accompanied by students playing the bass, bongos and trumpets.

The songs performed ranged from the more upbeat, gospel-style of “I Hear a Voice a-Prayin'” to the slower, more somber “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

This song was also conducted by student conductor Chris Proulx, senior music major, and was only performed by the male choir members.

Other songs ranged from the tribal-sounding “Kua Ruongo Mai Koe” to the more traditional sounds of “Amazing Grace” and “Domine, ad Adjuvandum Me Festina.”

After a brief intermission, the Women’s Ensemble began their performance with the accompaniment of a harp, played by Barbara Ann Biggins and conducted by adjunct music professor John T. McDonnell.

Dressed in all black, the singers began “A Ceremony of Carols” standing on the balcony above the audience.

After they proceeded onto the stage during “Hodie,” they continued their performance with a range of carols.

The more serious “That Yonge Child” was performed by soloist Danielle Lewis, junior music major, and the entire ensemble joined in for carols such as “Wolcum Yole!” “As Dew in Aprille,” “In Freezing Winter Night” and “Deo Gratias.”

“A Ceremony of Carols” concluded with a reprise of “Hodie,” followed by intermission halfway through the concert.

When the girls returned to the stage, they treated the audience to a more traditional and popular Christmas carol, “Deck the Halls,” which they sang a cappella.

“A Sussex Carol” was reminiscent of Christmas in Charles Dickens’ England and was accompanied with a flute performance by Kristen Daskilewicz, junior women’s and gender studies major.

The performance of “Lully, Lullay” was followed by a great applause and acknowledgement for the piece’s composer, Mendoza.

The ensemble finished with an enthusiastic and passionate performance of “Go Where I Send Thee!”

Performers and audience members appeared to be satisfied with the evening. Parents and grandparents congratulated their children with hugs and smiles.

One set of parents in particular was extremely proud of their daughter.

“It was a nice surprise for us. We didn’t know she was going to be playing,” Daskilewicz’s mother said. “The entire performance was uplifting and put me in a wonderful holiday spirit.”

Other audience members described the night’s performances as magical, wonderfully entertaining and energetic.

“A lot of emotion went into each of the songs. We’ve really grown as a choir since the beginning of the year,” Erin Doherty, freshman music major and Women’s Ensemble member, said.

“We really know everything, from when everyone is going to breathe to what note they will hit next.”