University ensembles perform for parents and family weekend

Music groups perform first public concert in 18 months


Dr. Shane Lynch addresses the audience at the choral performance from University Singers, Glee Club and Cantatrici on Oct. 1. Screenshot from livestream provided by Catherine McKean, ’24.

Catherine McKean

​​Washington and Lee’s choral and instrumental ensembles performed for Parents and Family Weekend in Wilson Concert Hall on the evenings of Oct. 1 and 2. The performances were also live-streamed to online viewers.

Shane Lynch, music department head and director of choral activities, opened the choral performance, which included the university’s Glee Club, Cantatrici and University Singers, on Friday night with an emotional welcome to the audience.

Lynch thanked everyone for being there and supporting the students who “worked their tails off” to deliver an outstanding performance three weeks into the school year.

The program revealed a theme of perseverance through the pandemic and hope for life returning back to normal. Sections were titled “Coming Together Once Again,” “We’re All In This Together,” and “A Celebration of Mask-less Singing.”

Choral and instrumental performers were given the option to perform mask-less if they had obtained a negative COVID-19 test result up to two days before the concerts.

Among the choral pieces performed were traditional favorites “Danny Boy,” “Shenandoah” and sea shanty “The Wellerman.”

The University Orchestra under Christopher Dobbins, director of instrumental activities, opened Saturday’s instrumental concert with four movements of Adolphus Hailstork’s “Sonata da Chiesa.”

“I believe that this is the most technically and musically difficult piece the orchestra has performed for Parents and Family Weekend,” Dobbins said to the orchestra in a pep talk before the concert. “I think it’s important for you to know that concerts are for you, to show off your hard work and get a good send-off to the pieces rehearsed. I’m very proud of all of you.”

The University Wind Ensemble, also conducted by Dobbins, followed with Rossano Galante’s “Resplendent Glory.”

Dobbins then addressed the audience, comparing the feeling of being able to perform again to the piece’s triumphant melody.

The University Jazz Ensemble under Terry Vosbein rounded out the evening with Thad Jones’ “A Child is Born” and Pee Wee Ellis’ “The Chicken.”

Following both performances, students and parents gathered outside of Wilson Concert Hall, embracing and congratulating each other on the successful performances.

Jordan Jontz, ’24, soprano in the University Singers, celebrated the return to live audience concerts at the choral concert’s outdoor reception.

“It’s unbelievable to be able to feel that connection,” Jontz said. “It’s amazing to hear how the songs resonated with the audience once they end. Just getting to hear the applause and the cheering is exhilarating”

She said energy within the ensemble is bright and exciting, even in rehearsals.

“We’re excited and passionate to perform, especially with our upcoming trip to Ireland,” Jontz said.

The University Singers’ planned trip to Ireland in April of 2022 was announced to family members by Lynch during the concert, and is something the singers are all looking forward to with great anticipation.

Jontz’s father, Tom Jontz, shared his daughter’s excitement and was glad to finally be able to see what life at Washington and Lee is like during a relatively normal year.

“This is the first time I’m getting to see her perform live in college,” he said. “I saw her on the Zoom livestream, but nothing completely replicates the experience of sitting in the audience and watching and reacting to a performance done on stage. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this weekend.”

Taylor Colaizzi, ’23, bass section leader of the University Singers and flute/clarinet section leader of the University Wind Ensemble, believes that live performance is an integral part of music and that relaxed COVID-19 restrictions have had a very good impact on the community of musicians.

“Performance is how you get the feeling of music across, and recordings just don’t have the same emotional impact as live performances. Musicians need to be able to share live music with people who are excited to see and hear it,” Colaizzi said. “Being able to sing and play right next to each other again is also an integral part of what we do, so we’re sounding a lot more in unison this year.”