The University Chorale of Boston College, under the direction of John Finney, helped to ring in Arts Fest 2018 on Thursday—the first day of the event series. The Chorale, a mixed-gender choir of 140 people, packed the stage in O’Neill Plaza’s tent. Accompanied by incredible musician Darryl Hollister, the Chorale sent their voices soaring across BC’s Middle Campus.
After a brief introduction, the Chorale got right to it. The choir would be performing pieces it had perfected and performed throughout their entire concert season over the course of the academic year. Some of these pieces had been recently performed in Europe, during the Chorale’s annual spring vacation tour.
It began the performance with “Tollite Hostias,” the final movement in Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’s Oratorio de Noël, and swiftly transitioned to “Exsultate justi,” a piece composed by Ludovico da Viadana. Listening to these two pieces, along with the following “Beati quroum via” by Charles Villier Stanford, the raw singing talent of the Chorale becomes immediately clear. These three pieces are all sung in Latin, and therefore are not readily understood by most people in the audience. This may sound like a drawback for the performance, but it instead works in Finney and the Chorale’s favor. Instead of paying attention to the lyrics and their meaning, the audience can simply let the powerful and rich vocals wash over them. In doing so, the intricate interplay between the different sections of the Chorale is impressive. Higher and deeper voices weave together, playing off of each other and responding, back and forth.
Finney then led the Chorale into three excerpts from Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolai. These excerpts are “Gloria,” “Sanctus & Benedictus,” and “Agnus Dei.” Each of these excerpts are stunningly beautiful. They are, of course, incredibly composed by Haydn, but they are expertly directed by Finney and sung by the Chorale. Sitting in the rows and rows of fold-up chairs that make up the audience section of the tent, it was clear that the members of the Chorale were flexing their vocal muscles, and the group seemed to enjoy performing these legendary pieces. “O Fortuna” played out along the same lines, as the Chorale excelled in their famous classic piece.
The Chorale wrapped up their performance with two songs that weren’t in Latin. They were the African spiritual—a song the group performed in Europe—“Every Time I Feel the Spirit” and the immensely famous and popular “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King. These two songs were a perfect finale to the Arts Fest event. The lyrics of the spiritual are moving and powerful, while “The Circle of Life” shines with the full accompaniment of the 140 person choir. This performance provided a great survey of the Chorale’s work this year, giving audiences a desire to see more from them in the fall.
Featured Image by Jacob Schick / Arts Editor