Accompanist Amber Clark graced the piano at the Knox College Choir spring concert this past Friday to end 20 years with the group.
“It was just beautiful,” Clark said. “The choir was focused and working with [Visiting Instructor and Acting Director of Choirs] Danny McDavitt has been just a pleasure for the past two terms … the music he picked out was just a lark to play.”
Clark played a great final concert, working well with the choir to blend and support on a majority of the songs the choir performed.
The selection of music, which featured Clark more often than usual, was different from the normal selection. Differences included a minimal amount of light-hearted music (a mainstay in a concert directed by Professor of Music and Choir Director Laura Lane) and a large solo piece that would normally be taken by an outside performer.
“They stepped up to the challenge,” McDavitt said. McDavitt, who will be leaving the school after this year, hopes to find a school comparable to Knox.
“He has shown us a really different view of the choir world,” choir president junior Kathy Groat said. “He has really brought positive motivation and enjoyment of the music.”
Numerous songs throughout the concert required strong musical ability. Several songs also featured soloists, including Groat (the featured soloist for “Hear My Prayer”) or student conductors, including junior Edward Davis and senior Pier Debes.
“It was a challenge, but it was something I was really ambitious about,” Groat said about her solo.
Despite some minor mistakes during the piece, Groat was satisfied with her performance. Most flaws recognized by the performers went relatively unnoticed by the audience.
The night only had one noticeable sub-par performance. Violinist and Music Instructor Louise Polay, who normally brings a strong performance to her role as concertmaster for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, had audible missed notes and hesitation, which hurt the singing of “Five Hebrew Love Songs,” a piece by Eric Whitacre. The choir was able to overcome this and any other mistakes to provide a solid performance to the half-full Kresge Recital Hall.
The concert ended on a lighter note with the performance of “Ubuntu,” which had a more upbeat feeling and had choir members swaying with music.
After the concert McDavitt and Clark were given presents from the choir. Both received photo albums and Clark was recognized with a retirement party. During the party she received many letters from past and current choir members.
“I don’t know if we can have the Knox College Choir without Amber,” Lane said during a retirement celebration speech after the spring concert.
“I will miss every one of the choir members,” Clark said. “I have just grown to love these kids.”
With tears being visibly shed, seniors were sent off with the traditional singing of the “Knox Hymn” with help of alumni in the audience who came on stage to sing.
“[The concert] was a really bitter sweet moment for me,” senior Alex Lindberg said. “Because of all the friends I have made and I love singing with the choir, it was fantastic to sing with them again and have one last time to do it.”
The seniors and Clark will get one last chance to sing the Hymn during graduation on June 4.
While the seniors and McDavitt move on, Clark hopes to stay at Knox, teaching a few piano lessons.