Mosaic / Music / Reviews / April 1, 2010

Choir notes hit home after Spain

The Knox College Choir has returned from Catalonia in Spain with tans, a sharpened repertoire and a new sense of their place in the world. The choir, under the direction of Dr. Laura Lane, sung in Kresge Recital Hall this past Friday. There was standing room only as the auditorium filled with students, professors, alumni and Galesburg residents, all present to hear the crowning concert of an entire term of work subsequently honed on a European tour.

The choir sang many of the same songs as at the send-off concert earlier this month. However, they were now sung with a greater degree of precision and feeling. The concert began with a strong rendition of Venite, Exsultemus Domino by Jan Sweelinck and was followed up by Crucifixus (Antonio Lotti) and Otche Nash (Nikolai Golovanov).

Dr. Lane spoke before these two pieces, “Both of these pieces really transformed themselves over the course of the trip. This transformation came from singing in dead spaces, tiny churches where the sound just dropped straight to the floor, and cathedrals with eight seconds of reverberation,” she said.

Both pieces, particularly Otche Nash, were sung with greater power than at the send-off concert. The Chamber Singers sang next, delivering renditions of Hodie Christus Natus Est by William Byrd, two parts of the Fire Songs by Morten Laruidsen and the ever-popular choral version of Rossini’s overture to The Barber of Seville. All four pieces were received well, but the audience was particularly engaged by the tongue-in-cheek nature of The Barber of Seville. The Chamber Singers ended with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, arranged by Philip Lawson. This was welcomed in a similar spirit to the Barber, and the audience laughed frequently during the song and gave resounding applause.

The whole choir continued, singing their third section of the program, the haunting Knowee (Stephen Leek), A Child’s Prayer (James MacMillan) and Water Night (Eric Whitacre). A Child’s Prayer, featuring seniors Jen Milius, soprano, and Margaret Wehr, alto, was applauded particularly strongly.

The final section of the program began with the traditional Catalonian song, L’Emporda. Dr. Lane said of performing the song in Catalonia that “just from seeing the people’s faces, the students realized that they were giving a gift.”

The entire fourth section of the program was quite competently performed, but the real triumph of the section, and of the concert as a whole, was Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel. The song was delivered with exceptional power and feeling, completely engaging the audience. The song had barely ended when a standing ovation began. The applause continued for quite some time, equally strong for the choir, the soloists and Dr. Lane.

The entire concert was a success for the choir and displayed both their strength as a group and their growth over the course of their tour in Spain.

Ben Reeves

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