By Lauren Katz
This past Saturday, the Kenyon College Community Choir and Chamber Singers took the stage in Rosse Hall to perform their annual winter concert. Both singing groups were under the direction of Professor of Music Benjamin Locke.
The group took up a large portion of the vast stage, but they blended together beautifully. Accompanied on piano by Patricia Pelfrey, Community Choir opened the evening with a mix of pieces ranging from African-American spirituals from the 1900s to classical pieces from the 1800s.
The group itself is comprised of Kenyon students and faculty and members of the Gambier community. For Kenyon students, Community Choir is offered as a class. “It’s a take-all-comers choir,” Locke said. “It’s designed that way in order to make singing in a choral group open to anybody as a liberal arts experience.”
On top of that, the choir provides community members with a musical outlet, and each of the four Community Choir soloists came from that community. Mandy Mason Gadrow opened Joan Szymko’s “Herbst (Autumn)” with a gorgeous soprano sound that rang off the rafters of Rosse Hall. Alison Furlong and Joan Bare each had a solo in Moses Hogan’s arrangement of “This Little Light of Mine.” Furlong’s strong voice and Bare’s lighter voice created a nice contrast. Scott Patterson’s solo fell in Robert DeCormier’s arrangement of “Let Me Fly,” and Patterson’s deep and powerful voice embodied the energetic feel of the piece.
Similar to Community Choir, the Chamber Singers performed their own mix of traditional folk songs and classical pieces from different time periods and in different languages, all of which will also be showcased during the Chambers Singers’ annual spring tour. “It’s a good idea to get [the music] out there, so we can get the experience of performing it in front of an audience,” Locke said.
The group opened the performance with “Prelude for Voices,” which created a strong start. However, it was Grace Potter ’17 who brought the song over the top. Her solo was stunning, and the pure sound of her soprano voice created a sharp contrast to the booming sound that the group created at the beginning of the number.
Their second song of the evening, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Tebye poyem, op. 31,” was just as beautiful. Locke cleverly chose a softer piece for the second song, a nice change after the strong beginning. Hannah Foerschler ’15 had the solo in this piece, and though she had the challenge of having to sing over her fellow performers with her individual part, her soprano sound rang out beautifully.
Community Choir and the Chamber Singers brought such high levels of talent to the stage. Based on the standing ovation at the end of the performance, it would seem everyone else agreed.