The morning concert session at the Old South Church featured three diverse ensembles presenting a wide variety of compositions. The first group to perform was the Glee Club and Chamber Singers from Mount Holyoke College, under the direction of Lindsay Pope. These singers began with a song from the Georgian wassailing tradition, entitled "Guruli alilo." On their second piece, "Spaseniye sodelal (Salvation is Created)," they sounded like a totally different choir because the first two pieces were so stylistically different. Next, a select group stepped forward to perform Victoria's beautiful motet "Duo Seraphim (Two Angels)," which features polyphonic interaction between a melody and countermelody, meant to represent a conversation between two angels. The select group then transitioned into a piece called "A la lune" that was characterized by interesting cluster chords and dynamic contrasts. This was followed by Holst's "Hymn of the Travellers," which features harp accompaniment. The group ended with an exciting piece called "Tuttarana," and as they finished, the final chord rang gloriously throughout the sanctuary.
The next group to perform was the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, or C4 for short. C4 is a unique ensemble that is led cooperatively by its members, most of whom are composers and/or conductors. The ensemble members take turns at the podium and are often given the chance to commission their own works with the group. This morning, we were treated to six pieces of contrasting styles, most of which were written by C4 ensemble members. The musical features of each piece reflected the moods created by the poetry, and every piece had its own distinct quality. Some compositions had long, fast-paced phrases, while others were more harmonically driven, featuring slower phrases and intriguing chords. One of the pieces called for a chorus of overtones, and the group's gorgeous execution of the passage was a highlight of the concert. The diversity of the repertoire kept the audience on its toes and showcased the versatility for which C4 is known!
The final group to perform was the Shenzhen Lily Girls Choir from China. These 11-17 year old singers, under the direction of Hu Manxue, performed a wide variety of repertoire with humility, expressivity, and maturity beyond their years. They began with a lovely Mongolian folk song, and they surrounded us in the aisles of the church as they sang, which allowed the sound to echo throughout the space. Their second piece, "Flying Songs of Miao," contained frequent tempi changes and played with contrasts between bright and dark tone qualities, and the ensemble was clearly unified in their understanding of how the piece should sound. The group's energy and focus were unrelenting throughout the entire concert. The third piece featured vocal percussion and exciting key changes, and the fourth piece was presented with lively choreography, completely in sync. We were particularly excited to hear Eriks Esenvalds's "Northern Lights," an emotional composition that calls for chimes and water glasses. The members of the Shenzhen Choir were wonderfully expressive in this piece, and they truly told a story through their facial expressions as they sang. The last two pieces performed were light-hearted and carefree, and the group was able to highlight their ability to maintain a pure, in-tune sound across a nearly 4-octave range. After the final piece, the audience immediately rose to its feet. We thoroughly enjoyed the performances of all three ensembles at the Old South Church!
-Juliana Joy Child, IC ACDA Treasurer, and Holden Turner, '19
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