The sopranos’ voices fluttered higher and higher, unleashing an upward cataract of notes, as if to challenge the rain pouring from the sky outside. The lower voices supported them until, all together, they reached a stunning conclusion of a unified final note. As conductor John Finney signaled the end, the silence thereafter allowed the beauty of that final note to mature, even after the reverberations of vocal chords had stopped.
In the concise rendition of Maurice Durufle’s “Tu es Petrus,” one can find larger themes present in the University Chorale of Boston College’s Winter Concert. Executing acutely with a wealth of talent, Chorale brings a life to its chants, no matter their duration, subject, or time of day. For that rainy night, much like St. Peter, Chorale remained a hallowed aural rock on which to comfortably rest.
Music Librarian Eddie Dols, MCAS ’18, described this concert as a preview for many of Chorale’s upcoming ventures in the spring. As a foray into the spring’s content, Chorale treated listeners to two sections, “Quoniam tu solus sanctus” and “Cum sancto spiritu,” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria.” Such actions are used to create a continuity between each of Chorale’s distinct performances throughout the year.
Many of the pieces sung by Chorale began in a rather reticent fashion, only to give way to more complex vocal arrangements. This was especially stirring when the voices diverged and subsequently reintegrated later in the piece. “Domine, non sum dignus” did this throughout, leaving listeners under a cyclic spell, as if watching a flower bloom and close in succession.
When not creating quietly emouvant moments, the raw power of Chorale’s many voices is immediately felt. Such power does not rest solely on the shoulders of the vocalists, as it points thematically to the higher power many of these songs touch upon. As many of the notes were raised, a listener might be inclined to follow the progression upward with one’s eyes. The sound of these classical pieces coupled with the ornate architecture of St. Ignatius Church espouses the heavenly overtones to lyrical content of the pieces, the musical stylings, and the setting.
At one point, in a moment indicative of the valued relations forged in Chorale, Finney ceded his place as conductor to Kyung won Seo, MCAS ’17, for the performance of “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place.” The senior tenor and talented conductor had conducted the piece throughout the year during practice and, as a testament to his commitment did so once more for a rousing rendition of the German original.
In addition to their classical repertoire, Chorale also chanted more modern songs which allowed the night to adopt a different pace. “Wondrous Love,” arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw, resounded widely and with strength with each addition of a vocal range. The song adopted a regal feel as the vocalists sang out emphatically “Oh my soul, oh my soul.”
Spiritual hymn “Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit” adopted a call and response format between the low and high voices, creating an audible connection with the audience and each other.
Director of publicity, Mimi Sperl, LSOE ’18, described the addition of more modern pieces as a breath of fresh air for Chorale. Although many members are classically trained, interjections with modern pieces give a break from those more stringent, intensive pieces.
“This is one of our more fun concerts in the sense that we do some more contemporary pieces rather than the older classical music we feature throughout the year,” she said.
The night was one of elation as its members prepared for their Spring Break Tour in Rome. As they sang out, Chorale members attested to a bright future, unified in sound, heart, and mind. Though they may find success elsewhere in the world, their home will always harken them back to BC—beneath the crucifix in St. Ignatius.
Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor