Choral concert makes waves

W&L’s Music Department showcases its choral groups in annual winter choral concert

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Aran Go, ’16, performing in choral concert. Photo by Steven Yeung, ’17.

Alexandra Cline

Washington and Lee’s Music Department choral groups took the stage to perform an array of classical and modern pieces at their annual winter concert held in the Wilson Concert Hall on March 22.

The Men’s Glee Club, Cantatrici and the combined choirs of the choral program sang early modern English pieces, a Latin arrangement and Shakespearean songs—the latter as part of the university’s year-long Shakespearean theme in the arts department.

The program was divided into three distinct sections based on the messages of pieces. The program opened with “Songs for Those of Questionable State,” a series of arrangements that discuss young people and unwise choices, and was followed by a medley known as “Shakespeare’s Influence,” since the songs related to the playwright’s work. The concert concluded with pieces about nature, appropriately named “Choral Soundscapes.”

“Programming the concert is one of the most challenging and important parts of the job,” Director of Choral Activities Shane Lynch said. “The music in the programs needs to fit the abilities and educational goals of the various choirs, create a thematic thread throughout the evening and hopefully create a vibrant evening of music for the audience.”

Among the pieces performed was Tundra by Ola Gjeilo, which featured Cantatrici Soprano I soloist Kate Dalia, ‘18. Dalia appreciated the unifying aspect of singing with a group.

“My favorite part about performing is seeing how our different voice parts have come together over the course of the term to create one piece of music,” Dalia said.

Following an intermission, the performers reset the stage to accommodate all of the singing groups and instrumentalists for a rendition of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Opus 80, featuring pianist and composer Jonathan Cook.

The final piece also included solo vocal performances by Emily Streeper, ‘16, Madeleine Sullivan, ‘16, Erica Schiller, ‘16, Wonhee Lim, ‘16, Tyler Wenger, ‘17, and Jake Burnett, ‘17.

“The Beethoven [piece] was a challenge, whether it is the daunting piano solo or the large combination of performing forces required to make the work happen,” Lynch said. “Beyond the music, the sheer logistics of that part of the program just took a lot of organization and preparation.”

The singers and directors work throughout the academic year to refine their pieces and ensure a quality production.

“I really enjoy the daily process of rehearsing with the singers,” Lynch said. “It’s just wonderful to work hard, day in and day out, really learning about ourselves, our place in this world, and the nature of how our lives unfold. I think I enjoy the process and discovery in the journey as much as or more than the final destination of the concert.”