Arts

The Concert Choir performs polished pieces from spring tour

]1 Michael McGaghie conducts the Macalester Concert Choir for its spring performance at Mairs Concert Hall.Photo by Emma Carray ’20
On Saturday, April 1, the Macalester Concert Choir performed its annual spring concert. Throughout the hour-long program, the mixed-voice ensemble successfully demonstrated its vocal dexterity, crisp diction and outstanding musicianship. The house was nearly full.

The night’s program consisted of pieces the choir had sung during its recent spring break tour of the Upper Midwest. Included was a mixture of sacred pieces and contemporary music from both European and American composers.

The performance began with the “The Day is Done,” a Concert Choir favorite that has been performed at various occasions this academic year. The piece draws lyrics from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The choir effectively captured Longfellow’s 1844 poem, which speaks of his admiration for his favorite writers. Here the choir’s rich tone was in full display as the ensemble transitioned emotionally between louder and softer sections of the piece.

The choir also sung “Ubi Caritas,” a well-known piece in choral circles that conductor Michael McGaghie described as “a choir staple.” This hymn, sung in Latin, originates from an antiphon often performed on the Thursday before Good Friday. Once again the choir put on an outstanding show for this simple yet angelic piece.

In contrast to the rounded vowels of the Latin language—arguably any chorister’s favorite tongue to sing in—the following piece, “Shabat Hamalka,” was performed in Hebrew. The choir sang the piece effortlessly.

Two pieces featured soloists. Baritone Jesse Crosby ’20 opened Psalm 121 from the “Requiem” by English composer Herbert Howells. His resonant tone echoed the uplifting words of his opening solo. Midway through the piece, Lucas Myers ’17 presented the audience with his mature tenor voice.

Rosie Hughes ’17 had lengthy solo parts in “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” by Dolly Parton, who was inspired by her life sacrifices to write the piece in 1977. Hughes accurately embodied the piece’s country characteristics in her solo while still retaining a rich choral tone.

For many students, the soothing and calming pieces at Saturday’s performance were an appropriate respite from the busy week.This was the last time the choir performs on its own this academic year. The next and final choral concert will feature the Concert Choir together with the Macalester Chorale, the college’s larger choir. The combined choirs, together with professional soloists, will accompany a professional orchestra in a rendition of Mozart’s “Requiem” on April 22.

April 7, 2017

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