May 5th, 2012
A Choral Tapestry
It’s funny how flexible and versatile music is. Music is thrash metal emanating from a pair of iPod headphones, with the intent of getting someone motivated for a long workout, and a soothing lullaby sung by a mother to her child. Music is the sunny chirpings of pretty morning melodies by the birds, and the soft pitter-patter of rain—nature’s music. And on May 4th, music was the choirs of CLC putting together all of the hard work of the semester for the few who are willing to listen. For me, choir music was always to be heard, but never to actually be listened to for any enjoyment. But that night, I was one of those willing few. Attending the College of Lake County Spring Choral Concert made me realize how essential it is to recognize the beauty in versatility in music. It seems that versatility was one of choir director Dr. Charles Clency’s focuses when he picked out the repertoire. The program of the event reads: “A Choral Tapestry. A blend of choral genres: mass, madrigal, oratorio, opera, musical theatre, pop, spirituals, gospel…” and the list goes on. There was versatility even within the choirs themselves. For instance, the first six songs were sung by the Choir of Lake County, but the first four pieces were sung in Latin, French, Russian, and Italian, with mezzo soprano Sheila Bondurant singing Carmen’s solo in Habanera, while the last two were excerpts from the musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Oklahoma. This is quite the contrast. I’ll admit, at first the concert was slow. This could be because of my own preconceived notions on how the concert was going to play out, or it could have been that my preconceived notions were true. The following group caught my attention a little bit better, which was the all-women’s choir who sang a dreamy French piece called Clair de Lune, which translates to “moonlight” in English. Notions of leaving pervaded my thoughts up until the Chamber Singers filed onto the stage. They presented O Mio Babbino Caro, a beautiful legato Italian operatic piece, and the distinctively different Oro, which took a grand total of about thirty seconds to get through all nine pages. This is when I really settled down into my seat and opened up my ears for something enjoyable. The Chamber Singers then combined with the CLC Singers, a choir made up of about 20 college-aged students. Together they sang If Music Be the Food of Love, El Grillo, and Every Night When the Sun Goes Down. The CLC Singers then sang excerpts from musical Porgy and Bess, and then La Perla, a Cuban folk song. The Gospel Choir then literally rose from under the stage to join the CLC Singers in singing Walk Him Up the Stairs, Merciful God, Rock-a-My Soul, The Creation, and Clap Praise, which were all very energetic spirituals. Finally, all of the choirs took the stage and performed excerpts from musical My Fair Lady—On the Street Where You Live, and I Could Have Danced All Night. Most pieces were accompanied by piano or drums, but a select few were performed a’capella. Two songs specifically that earned my attention were the back-to-back pieces Oro, sung by the Chamber Choir and If Music Be the Food of Love, sung by both the Chamber Choir and the CLC Singers. Oro is a four-part a’capella Yugoslavic folksong, written by Alojz Srebotnjak with the English verson written by Maria Pelikan. What makes this song stand apart from the others is its tempo: it begins at 126, with Allegretto, rustico. The English words are as follows (as written in the program): “Sunday evening I went dancing, dum dee dum.
Guess at whom the girls were glancing, dum dee dum.
I looked back at all their faces, dum dee dum.
And I nearly broke my braces, dum dee dum.
Old Michael went on drinking;
Old Marshka just kept blinking, dum dee dum.
Oro is sung in a two-four meter, which lends to the rhythmic nature of the piece. On page 4, measure 21, the tempo speeds up to 138, and then...