GRETCHEN E. MAYER | STAFF REPORTER
On Friday Feb. 20, 2015, the Butler University Chorale and the Butler University Chamber Singers presented their spring semester concert.
The concert began with the Chorale, transitioned to the Chamber Singers, and then went back to the Chorale to finish up the performance. The performance itself did not exceed an hour.
Chorale began with Pure Imagination (from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). The piano, played by Maira Ferrira, began the concert. A choir sang around the piano’s melodies.
After this song, Dr. Eric Stark, the conductor, welcomed those who came to the concert by saying that the choirs that evening were performing “songs to warm the heart and soul.”
The next selection was by Johannes Brahms, “O schöne Nacht.” This piece was in German and also began with a beautiful accompaniment in the piano. The end of this piece was absolutely perfect. The last word “Nacht” and the piano came together perfectly and effectively.
The third selection was by Gwyneth Walker: From Songs of Ecstasy. The lyrics from this collection come from poems written by a monk who obtained spiritual meaning from nature, Dr. Stark said.
These songs were performed a capella.
The first song from this piece, Song: “When Rain Sings Light”, started quietly and then became gradually louder. The composer mixed the different sections of the choir creatively. This piece was conducted by Justine Koontz, the assistant conductor.
The second song, A Psalm: “The Spirit Sings”, was conducted by Dr. Stark. This piece required the choir to pat their sides and snap into rhythm. Out of the three songs, this one was the most enlivening.
The third and last song, Stranger: “Thou Inward Stranger Whom I Have Never Seen”, was very soft and slow at the beginning. The important words were discernible and made the beautiful song more effective to the listener.
After this, the Chorale filed off the stage.
The Chamber Singers, an a capella group, walked on the stage and sang their first song, “So Trinken Wir.” The song was very fun and jolly.
Dr. Stark introduced the group after they sang their first selection. He informed the audience that the previous song was a drinking song with lyrics that were better left in another language.
Dr. Stark announced that the next selection was Au Jolie Jen (“O Happy Game”). He said that this piece was about someone pursuing another in a love entanglement.
The piece itself was very fast and flowing with the vocalists often singing in canon.
The next piece was by Britten and was called something along the lines of “Succession of Four Sweet Months.” The harmonies in the piece often rubbed against each other in a strangely pleasant way.
The last selection was Precious Lord. The harmonies in this selection were gorgeous and the singing was very beautiful. Some of the words that stuck out were “Take my hand” and “lead me home.”
After this piece, one of the audience members commented that the singing was beautiful.
The Chamber Singers exited the stage and Chorale walked back on. This time, only a portion of the Chorale was on the stage, while the rest were in the balcony.
They sang “Nun ist das Heil” by Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece was very intricate. The conductor had to give strong downbeats and it seemed difficult to keep the choirs together as the distance was a disadvantage.
The next piece was written by one of the faculty composers, Dr. Frank Felice. This piece was from a collection of pieces that were set to poems.
Dr. Stark said this particular piece “speaks about relationships—coming in love with someone.”
It was sung a capella. The ladies voices began the piece, they sounded rather lonely.
After this, the tenors entered and the sound gradually filled out.
The first discernible words were “O my maiden..” The singing was beautiful and the harmonies were lovely. The soprano was especially showcased at some points with poignant high notes.
The last two selections were in English and had no introduction to the pieces. From the program, it was discerned that the selections were Celia by William Hawley and Requiem by Eliza Gilkyson.
The last selection was a Brazilian song conducted by a Brazilian: Maira Ferriera (who had previously been at the piano). The song was upbeat, exciting, and very fast.
The audience last Friday was mostly made up of community members with a smattering of Butler University students and professors.
There are several upcoming Butler choral concerts featuring different choirs and even combined choirs: March 5, April 1, and April 19 are a few of the dates. Judging by their latest performance, this is certainly worth checking out.
I would like to know when is the next audition.