By Ariel Steinsaltz
A slow melody filled the room as a performer sang her solo and the lines of performers behind her bumped to the beat. Shortly after, the whole group began to play the drums and sing, “it takes a whole village to raise our children.” This was the opening performance of the College Choir’s Winter Concert, which was held on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. in Mayo Concert Hall.
The first section of the event was performed by the College Choir, which sang four songs, “It Takes a Village,” by Joan Szymko, “Five Hebrew Love Songs,” by Eric Whitacre, “MLK” by U2 and a gospel blues song, “John, the Revelator,” by Blind Willie Johnson.
The song “Five Hebrew Love Songs,” adapted by Whitacre from poems his wife wrote when they were dating, had a soft and sweet tone. Piano and violin accompanied the singers. Behind the singers, the words to the songs and the English translations were revealed on screen.
The performance of “MLK” was dedicated to Jason Zujkowski, a music education major who recently passed away. Before the song, a moment of silence was held in his memory. The performers in the concert all wore red ribbons in memory of Zujkowski and to raise awareness of heart disease.
After the College Choir performed, the Collegium Musicum, a vocal chamber ensemble of both music and non-music majors, took the stage for its performance of the evening. The group performed two songs, “Lasciatemi morire!” an Italian song from the Baroque era by Claudio Monteverdi and “Chili con Carne,” an upbeat song about cooking Mexican food by Anders Edenroth.
The Chorale was next to perform. The group sang five songs, “Jubilate Deo,” by Ko Matsushita, “Three Madrigals,” by Emma Lou Diemer, “A Boy and a Girl,” by Eric Whitacre, “Pal-so-seong,” (“Eight Laughing Voices”) by Hyo-won Woo and “I Can Tell the World,” by Moses Hogan.
“Three Madrigals” uses three short songs about love and heartbreak and ends with the revelation that “all men are jerks,” according to the introduction of the song. Woo is known for contemporary works that incorporate themes from both Korean and Western culture. She also weaves humor into her music, and “Eight Laughing Voices” included the sounds of several people laughing, which gave the song a lighthearted tone.
After the Chorale performed, the College Choir and Collegium Musicum rejoined the stage for the show’s combined finale. They performed three more songs: “O Fortuna!” by Carl Orff, “Va, pensiero,” by Giuseppe Verdi and the final song, “I Sing Because I’m Happy,” by Charles H. Gabriel. The audience was invited to join the performers in singing the final piece, which was very upbeat.
Most of the songs in the show were contemporary pieces, as the intention of the concert was to exemplify this music style. John P. Leonard, the director of choral activities at the College, explained that the group picked out mostly 20th century works for the repertoire.
Leonard also said that he appreciated both spiritual and collaborative works, that allowed students to sing and learn more interactively.
According Sydney McGowan, a sophomore psychology and early childhood education major and a member of the choir, the College Choir’s preparation consists of rehearsal on Mondays and Thursdays as well as ample individual practice.
“It’s so much fun. It’s a lot of hard work, but it all pays off,” she said.
The concert hall was packed with members of the campus community, who were eager to see the show.
“I thought it was a fantastic performance and I love coming out to hear the Chorale and College Choir and Collegium Musicum,” said Katie Cole, a sophomore elementary education major.