On Saturday evening, Rosse Hall was packed for the Chamber Singers’ spring concert, no doubt because some students hoped to take their minds off the power outage affecting the entire campus at the time.
The concert was a rousing success despite the darkness. The Chamber Singers conductor, Professor of Music Ben Locke, was happy with the attendance numbers. “It shows that people seem to know that [Chamber Singers] move ahead no matter what,” he said. While the hall was nearly full, only the stage was lit up by a few dainty lights at the feet of the choir. The atmosphere was electrified by the darkness. The usual noise produced by humming machines in the distance was no longer a distraction as the human sounds of the choir’s voices reverberated throughout the hall instead. Concerning the outage’s effects on the choir’s singing, choir member Christian Maric ’23 said, “The sensory deprivation really helped us focus on the dynamics of it, a lot more.”
According to Isabel Braun ’26, the choir was given the choice to perform a shortened setlist by Locke because of the encroaching darkness. However, the choir insisted that they perform the entire show. “Everyone was so passionate about letting the show go on,” Braun said.
The Chamber Singers started their setlist without much ado. Their distinctive precision stood out on their third song, “Cantate Domino” composed by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, when the singers seamlessly moved from soft lines akin to the touch of sand on your feet to powerful phrases that felt like rolling waves of the ocean.
Their fourth song, Juhani Komulainen’s “Four Ballads of Shakespeare,” started off with a haunting texture to it and felt foreboding. The song went on a journey of four Shakespeare plays that all had their own story and mood to them. It ended on an angelic harmony that contrasted its ghostlike beginning.
Perhaps the Chamber Singers were extremely captivating. Perhaps students were preserving the power of their phones. Regardless, the crowd’s attention was firmly tied to the stage. The piece that stood out the most was “Psalm 130” composed by John Beckwith, who died recently. The postmodern piece had an enthralling start. The choir started with dissociated chants that gradually transformed into an organized dissonance. Throughout the song, the musical phrases were accompanied by biblical chants called out by random singers in the choir. The effect was jarring but moving.
Brian Coburn ’23 was the soloist for the thrilling and exciting “Le mensonge” (“The Lie”). The song had a seemingly happy melody belying its sad meaning. “Shilohini” was accompanied by choreography that put a smile on the singers’ faces, a nice sight in contrast to their otherwise somber program.
The spring concert at Kenyon for the choir is especially special because at that point, the choir has bonded as a group during their spring tour. The concert was also a labor of love for the choir to support the senior members soon to graduate. As a result, the emotional high of the night had to be the final song, the “Kokosing Farewell.” At that point, Chamber Singers alumni in the audience were invited to the stage to sing the Kenyon classic with the choir. For Stephanie Kaufman ‘23, the Kokosing farewell was really moving at the home concert because of how the song connects to the Chamber Singers’ legacy. “It feels like a song that exists in more than just that moment,” she said. There were tears shed by the audience and the performers alike. The Chamber Singers should be commended for their ability to deliver a stirring concert even through such adversity.
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