On Sunday, Feb. 9, the Lawrence choirs gave a little life to the fifth week blues with their Winter Term concert. All four choirs — Viking Chorale, Viking Bass Clef Ensemble, Concert Choir and Cantala — came together and prepared an entire performance in just five weeks. Conducted by Stephan M. Sieck and Phillip A. Swan, the choirs continued with the theme of love, a theme that will continue into the Spring Term as well. In light of the “It’s On Us” campaign on Lawrence this week, every member of the choirs wore a teal ribbon in support of stopping sexual assault on college campuses across the country.
Viking Chorale opened up the performance with “Lord Make Me Your Instrument” by Roger Holland II. Sieck accompanied on piano as the group’s full sound uplifted the whole space. While singing in unison, creating a wall of sound, one could feel the power that lay behind the prayer they were singing. In their next song, “I’d Give It All for You” by Jason Robert Brown, the choir got to work with complex meters as a group. On the theme of love, this song spoke about the senseless giving kind of love that can exist between two people. The choir divided into two groups and took turns singing verses to each other to emulate the devotion felt in the lyrics. The song was well paired with the first, since both were bright versions of love, but this one felt like more of an outpouring of love to one single person.
The next group to come on stage was the Viking Bass Clef Ensemble. The first song they sang was by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, entitled, “Sicut Cervus.” There were many complex voice parts happening all at once, but it was executed so well that everything melded together. Someone was always on a long open note, which helped it blend, as it lulled the audience in the best way possible. Though done in Latin, members explained that the song tells of how a soul longs for God, but they also wanted to separate it from the religious standpoint and see how it also applies to other contexts. The second song, “Like a River In My Soul,” was an African American spiritual arranged by Tim Osiek. The ensemble explained that they wanted to decenter this one from religion as well, for a fresh take in a modern context. The emphasis was instead put on the actual story from the song: of a person seeking solace when lost and finding refuge in another. With Daniel Boyd accompanying them on piano, the intricate melodies built upon one another which began to feel like something was opening up within the chapel; as if the voices were reaching something bigger than the song.
Then came the Concert Choir, starting with “Ego flos campi” by Raffaela Aleotta, which spoke of a love for the divine. For this performance, the choir split into one small group and one large group, each representing a man and a woman declaring love for one another, while a small string group and organ accompanied them. In the next song, Bach’s “Komm, Jesu, Komm,” BWV 229, the group invited the audience to reflect upon their own relationships with divine power, however it manifests itself in life. In the choir’s own reflections, they were given a lot of room for creativity in a traditional form with this “excitingly weird” piece which dealt with the longing for death in hopes of being rejoined with the divine. The strings performing alongside the choir complimented the singer’s voices wonderfully.
Finally, Cantala stepped on stage and gave their own empowering performance. The first song, “Martes” by Joseph Gregorio, gave voice to the superstitions that lie in Tuesdays in Spanish culture and was echoed in the irregular sustained chords in the piece. After that, they sang “We are the Ones” by Marie-Claire Saindon, which they expressed was about the invitation to trust the innate desires one has to connect with others through music. Then, a favorite of director Swan, Cantala sang “This is Me” from the hit movie “The Greatest Showman.” Many of the members were featured on solos and the piece especially hit the crowd with the empowering gusto given by the whole choir. And, to close off the concert, they sang the self-declared Cantala theme song, “Ta Na Solbici,” and invited past members of the group to join them on stage. With all the clapping, stomping and rich voices, this last song ended the concert exactly the way that it should have ended.