Framed by a scattering of ornate pine trees—relics of the past Christmas season—the University Chorale crowded the altar of St. Ignatius Church on Feb. 23, filling the church with the sound of its reverberating melodies for its annual Winter Concert.
Many of the songs performed adhered to a religious theme, the tone shifting between joyful praise and solemnity. Entrancing the audience with the sway of music, onality, and language (the concert included Latin songs, English songs, and even on French song), conductor John Finney led the chorale as it began the evening by singing Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Tollite Hostias,” a song rejoicing Jesus Christ. Julia Scott Carey also accompanied the Chorale on piano for the evening.
A series of Mozart pieces—“Rex tremendae majestatis,” “Confutatis,” and “Lacrymosa”— followed Chorale’s first two opening songs. These three songs eased the audiences into the concert’s shifting tones, beginning with a strong intensity and ending with the solemn “Lacrymosa,” creating a smooth transition into songs from The Seven Last Words of Christ.
Finney prefaced the selections from The Seven Last Words of Christ, an album by Théodore Dubois. Sung by the tenors, the words of Christ rang out three times during the song—beginning, middle, and end. “Sitio” translated to, “I thirst,” and their voices reflected the emotion and passion of Jesus’ death.
The rest of the chorale juggled the role of the Biblical crowd, a roll that fluctuated between adoration of Jesus Christ and mob-like fury demanding the crucifixion of Christ. These songs, precursors to the Spring Concert, maintained a reserved, mourning tone, given they are typically sung around the Easter season.
After performing “Ubi Caritas” by Maurice Duruflé, and “Cantique de Jean Racine” by Gabriel Fauré, the chamber singers broke off from the rest of the chorale and performed three pieces. They began with “Unto the Hills,” accompanied by Cassie Pearson, MCAS ’20, performing on the flute. Each time Pearson’s flute let out a sound, the choir followed, echoing in song.
Of the three pieces the chamber singers performed, their most notable piece was “The Gallant Weaver,” a poem transposed into a love song about a woman in love with a gallant weaver. Three soprano soloists, Sarah Early, CSON ’19; Mira Begovic, CSOM ’19; and Pearson, carried the role of the lady serenading her gallant weaver, a role written for and traditionally sung by eight women.
After their last piece, the chamber singers returned to the chorale, and they ended the evening with three English songs. They performed “In My Father’s House” by Philip Stopford, followed by “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” by William Dawson, shifting the tone from slow and mournful into upbeat praise and worship. The chorale finished the evening with “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Mack Wilberg, a song recognizable to Catholic audiences. This song ensured the evening closed on a high note, lifting the spirits of the audience and showcasing the full vocal range of the University Chorale.
Featured Image by Kayla Brandt / Heights Staff