The lights dimmed as the TCNJ Chorale opened its holiday concert on Sunday night to a packed audience in the Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall.
Friends, parents and siblings came out to see the 34 members of the chorale sing six pieces by a variety of composers. Also in attendance were former president of the College Harold W. Eickhoff and his wife, along with current president R. Barbara Gitenstein.
Assistant professor and director of chorale activities Michael D. Mendoza conducted the group, which opened with Cl?ment Janequin’s “La Guerre (La Bataille de Marignan).” The second piece, Joseph Graham’s “All On a Starry Night,” introduced student conductor Jack Pinto.
Pinto, senior vocal music education major, has been singing since he was a kid and conducts as part of an independent study with Mendoza as well as part of his job while he is in school.
“The singers are excellent and that makes conducting so much more enjoyable,” Pinto said. “They are dedicated and I want to thank them for all their time and effort in making the piece work.”
For the third piece, the group sang Paul J. Christiansen’s “Prayers of Steel,” followed by a Koepke arrangement of “Wade in De Water,” which presented another student conductor, Jennifer Sequin. This piece’s dynamics were evident in the vocals as well as the singers’ stomping and snapping.
Sequin, senior vocal music education major, is also participating in an independent study with Mendoza and said she was confident about conducting the arrangement. “I had complete faith in the group to sing an amazing concert,” Sequin said.
Pinto commended Sequin on the concert. “I thought she did a great job and I am grateful that we were able to each work with Dr. Mendoza in developing our conducting skills,” Pinto said.
Sequin also gave a solo performance of Eric Whitacre’s “Songs of Faith,” which is comprised of three works set to e.e. cummings’ poetry.
She was a little nervous about her solo but said she has been singing “since (she) began talking.” The song showcased the group’s harmonies as it meticulously blended each section of the chorale.
The chorale ended the show with a familiar piece for the audience, Emma Lou Diemer’s arrangement of “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain.”
Both Pinto and Sequin said afterward that they were happy with the show and its turnout. “The chorale had a great spirit and energy,” Sequin said.
“This was a fantastic group of people to work with and I hope I am fortunate enough to work with such a great group in the future,” she said.
Mendoza informed the audience that he and the chorale are scheduled to be touring during Spring Break. “I can’t go with a better group than I have this year,” Mendoza said.
He also said this particular concert was tough for him because he incorporated a year’s worth of new literature into one semester.
Pinto said, “We will continue to work on these pieces as well as others as we prepare for next semester and our tour in the spring.”