Mosaic / Music / Reviews / October 12, 2011

Nova Singers open 26th season

For over an hour-and-a-half on Saturday night, Kresge Recital Hall was filled with a myriad of choral arrangements sung to a crowd primarily made of community members and Knox choral students.

With a choir of only twenty singers that practices only a few times before each performance, the group is able to produce a sound strong enough to engulf every inch of Kresge.

“It was amazing how few of them there are, and they produce the sound of a full choir,” Knox College Choir freshman Clint Davis said.

The concert featured Knox College piano instructor Ashlee Mack. While Mack is known more as a contemporary pianist, she gracefully spanned the centuries of music performed.

After the first three Franz Schubert pieces were finished, director and Professor of Music Laura Lane kept a personal feeling to the concert by succinctly telling the audience, “Let’s do some Brahms.” While the first half of the concert had mainly late pieces, the second half featured more modern works that let Mack shine.

For many, the songs by Morten Lauridsen provided the most energy of the night. The songs, which were adapted by poems from Robert Graves, kicked off the second half and ushered in an excitement that carried through to the end of the concert.

“They rehearse four times and they learn all this music on their own. I can’t even imagine rehearsing four times and sounding like this,” sophomore Jenna Cohen said. “It was a pleasure; everything was different and fun.”

The final three songs of the night, which were selected months before the 175th celebration for Knox College and Galesburg had begun, worked well to usher it in. The pieces, all based on journeys, connected well with the journey the college founders took from the East Coast to Galesburg.

“The musicianship was of premier quality, just wonderful. I find it mysterious and fascinating that the last three pieces … are eerily celebratory of our founding,” Knox College President Teresa Amott said.

Many of the pieces were short and sweet, especially some songs by Schubert, Brahms and Lauridsen. The group counteracted this by mixing them with longer songs and numerous pieces.

“I just thought [the Lauridsens] were extraordinarily beautiful … I would have to hear them again to remember which one was my favorite, but they were breathtaking,” Amott said.

Besides some solo work by Mack during the concert, the only other soloists were Joel Kolander and Brian Katz during the pieces by Abbie Betinis.

As per usual, the group was able to amaze the crowd with a strong performance during the whole concert, and it is difficult to pick a favorite piece of the night.

“I loved the lyrics to [Journey Home] and the music was beautiful and flowing,” Davis said.

The concert ended like most others, with a standing ovation and an encore. This concert’s encore was a goosebump-raising rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

John Williams

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