The Chamber Singers walked out onto the stage in Rosse Hall on Saturday night in black suits and black dresses to a full crowd’s roaring applause. Performing two 40-minute sets under the direction of Professor of Music Benjamin Locke, the group’s repertoire consisted of varied musical genres like folksongs, hymns and spirituals from countries including the United States, South Korea and South Africa.
Among the most unconventional pieces performed, “Signposts” showed how adeptly the group can handle complex music. Arranging themselves by voice parts, the singers had to use unorthodox techniques that are echoed throughout the different parts of the choir. Such was the case with the word “divided,” which Locke advised the singers to sing “like a teleprinter,” an early form of a printer that made a rhythmic, mechanical sound. Although members of the Chamber Singers were divided on whether they enjoyed this piece, Jon Hammond ’20 found that he enjoyed performing it, despite its strange, avant-garde components. “It has a lot of passion and acting that we don’t have the opportunity to do in other pieces,” he said.
Prior to this performance, the Chamber Singers spent the first week of Spring Break on their annual spring tour. Singing in five different states and Washington D.C. for seven days, the group was able to perfect their songs before coming back to Ohio for their first official Kenyon performance of the year. Although they had shows each night of the trip and spent days traveling, the group also had time to relax and play laser tag with the whole ensemble, including their leader, “Doc” Locke.
After the program’s printed setlist, the group invited alumni onstage to close the night with the “Kokosing Farewell.” The ensemble featured many seniors performing with the Chamber Singers for the last time, so it was an incredibly touching performance of the song. Much of the crowd seemed visibly moved.
“It’s great to see Kenyon come out to support all different parts of the community and see so many people appreciate the music,” Hammond said of the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the show. “It shows how powerful music really is.”