On Saturday, I attended the Kenyon College Chamber Singers and Kenyon Community Choir concert at Rosse Hall. The ensembles put on biannual performances where students perform many songs that they had been practicing throughout the year. The Community Choir is a chorus open to students, faculty and other members of the community; students can participate in the choir by formally enrolling in the class, which counts for the Fine Arts diversification credit. The Chamber Singers are also an audition-based choir that meets five hours a week and practices a capella.
The singers performed a wide variety of songs during their performance, one of the most memorable was a song by the composer Mark Sirett called “Ce beau printemps.” The Chamber Singers, along with the Community Choir, are directed by the Professor of Music Ben Locke. In an email to the Collegian, Locke expressed how proud he was of the performance. “In general terms, I am most proud of what the choirs accomplished given that there was an unusually large turnover in membership; for example, 56% of the Chamber Singers were new to the ensemble, so I really had no clear idea of how well they would come together to reach the standards of past years. The same was true of the Community Choir. After a few weeks I was able to both challenge them and set reasonable goals for them to achieve; the intrinsic beauty of the compositions captured their imaginations and, in my opinion, inspired them to give their best,” Locke said.
I thought that the Chamber Singers and the Community Choir did an outstanding job during their performance. There were many performers who showed skill and dedication to their songs, and they did not disappoint. Locke said that the concert left him very satisfied and that the performance superseded all of the previous practices done in rehearsal. “I think we connected in profound ways with the audience, either by beauty of sound or by meaning of the texts we sang,” he said. “One indication of this was the fact that audience members picked many different songs as their favorites, which meant our execution of the compositions was even across the board — in other words, choosing a favorite piece had not been reliant on how well it was sung,”
There were many beautiful moments to watch during the performance, and I remember getting goosebumps as I sat in the audience listening to the songs that were sung. Each and every one of the students sang with an impressive amount of precision and harmony. One of my favorite moments was during the song “In the Beginning of Creation” by Daniel Pinkham, when every student started murmuring, mimicking how a crowded room would sound. Even during the moments where the singers were supposed to be chaotic, everyone still managed to make the song sound in sync.
A lot of time and dedication went into practicing, and those in the Kenyon College Chamber Singers practiced every day before the performance. “The Chamber Singers practiced every weekday from Aug. 31, and the Community Choir rehearsed once a week on Wednesday evenings starting Sept. 7,” Locke said. “Happily, the more severe restrictions concerning COVID protocols were lifted, allowing both groups to practice inside in Brandi Recital Hall, with masking optional. This made it much easier for the groups to learn the music and get a glimpse of the end results much sooner.” There will be many more opportunities to hear the Chamber Singers and the Community Choir. I urge everyone to attend one of their concerts, even if you are someone who has heard them perform before, as you will not be disappointed.