On Saturday, April 22, 2017, the Macalester Chorale and Macalester Concert Choir performed Mozart: Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and also featured the premiere of “The Ghost’s Story,” a piece by Dominick DiOrio (b. 1984). The event drew quite the crowd; Mairs Concert Hall quickly filled up with the overflow room being put to good use. The concert lasted about an hour and a half, with a small rest between sets. Professor Michael McGahie was the primary conductor for the night, with the help of his assistant conductor, Alexander Rack ’16.
The Macalester Chorale started off the night with a song titled “Tebe Poyem,” a piece from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943). The piece was beautifully sung. It is very quiet and understated, which was a lovely way to begin a concert that would move into songs that have a dramatic character.
The second piece, “Verleih uns Frieden” by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was accompanied by Bill Munson, a collaborative pianist, and conducted by Rack.
The premiere performance of “The Ghost’s Story,” composed by Dominick DiOrio, rounded out the Chorale’s set. The piece was commissioned by and dedicated to the Macalester Chorale. Caleb Easterly ’17 joined the Chorale on the marimba, a sound that added an otherworldly dimension to the piece. DiOrio transformed the poem written by Canadian poet Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1972) into a superb piece of music.
After a brief pause to reset the stage for Mozart: Requiem, both the Chorale and Concert Choir entered. Positioned in the center was the union orchestra personnel as well as four professional soloists sitting house right: Linh Kauffman, Laura Nicholas, Micholas Chalmers and Justin Staebell. The piece was in the deft hands of Michael McGahie.
The second half of the concert was solely for Mozart: Requiem, which both of the Macalester choirs sang, their voices powerful and unified. At times, the orchestra would play independently of the choir, before they would join in again. This helped to add another voice to the piece. Intermittently, the soloists would stand up and sing a section of the Requiem, either independently, in pairs or as a group. Their voices were powerful when alone and when they were together, it was simply magnificent. The Macalester combined choirs did not shy away from the spotlight either; from the opening to the ending note, their voices combined beautifully and compellingly to create a stellar sound and concert.
Once the final note was sung, the house was on its feet with a rousing standing ovation. The ovation lasted so long that the soloists and conductor came back to three encores. That, of course, is not to overshadow the amazing job done by the Macalester combined choirs as well as the orchestra. The three groups came together that night to put on a show that left the audience in complete awe and admiration.