Chorale and University Singers Host Annual Fall Showcase

Natalie Dest, Managing Editor

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Central Connecticut’s Chorale and University Singers hosted their fall showcase in Founders Hall this past Tuesday, Oct. 21, to friends and faculty of the CCSU Music Department for a night of experience.

“We work very hard to perform these songs and it’s a way to experience music you may not hear every day, and in person,” Chorale member Kira Hartnett said describing the night’s repertoire.

Conductor and newest music department faculty member Gaylon Robinson commenced the night with the ensemble’s first piece entitled “Hallelujah Amen” by George Frederic Handel. Saying only a few words before their performance, Robinson emphasized that this was a night for music.

“I am not going to talk a lot because you are here for the ensemble,” Robinson said to the crowd. “You’re here to listen to these songs and hopefully leave with a new admiration for them.” 

It was after those words that the Chorale singers held their first note of the night. With the accompaniment of pianist Blake Hanson, the ensemble was able to deliver an opening number that would lead to warm and welcoming applause near its end.

Practicing each Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30-5:45 p.m. as a full ensemble, the group utilizes each practice in hopes of improving each song as they move closer towards their performances.

“We run each song and really try to focus on improving our tone and annunciation every time,” Hartnett continued. 

It was further into the program when the ensemble performed a song entitled “Non Nobis Domine” by Rosephanye Powell, one of the repertoire’s more rhythmic pieces. This song in particular was engaging to the ear and seemed to keep the audience pulled in.

However, what the audience didn’t know is that this was one of the more challenging pieces for the ensemble to learn and prep for. “The hardest song was ‘Non Nobis Domine’ because we had to modulate the piece,” Harnett continued. ” We had a much higher range for our alto section.”

Following “Domine,” the Chorale Singers concluded their program with “Beautiful City,” a song composed by Robinson’s former colleague.

“This piece was composed by colleague and mentor André Thomas who recently retired, so this beautiful song is in tribute to him,” Robinson said before performing. This piece was more than a perfect way to conclude the group’s performance; an arrangement that was energetic and showcased the group’s vocal ranges.

Shortly after the Chorale Singers’ last song of the night, Central’s University Singers were welcomed onto the stage to perform a lengthy concert themselves. The group holds auditions in order to be involved in the ensemble, practicing songs that are more dynamic than the ones performed by the Chorale Singers.

“Our repertoire is more advanced than Chorale’s and is more geared to be sung by a smaller ensemble,” Chorale and University member Savannah Moore said. “We usually have a lot of tight harmonies and we all have to have perfect intonation and know our parts very well. We also sing a lot of a cappella music, whereas in chorale we sing repertoire that includes piano accompaniment.”

With rehearsals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:40-2:55 p.m., the group believes they are in good hands with Dr. Robinson.

“Being present for even just a few minutes at one of the rehearsals, you can really feel the amount of years of academic training and experience he’s had and how University Singers and Chorale is truly in good hands,” Chorale and University member Nathan Chapeton said. “Dr. Robinson expects us to do our part of learning the notes quickly and being extremely attentive during rehearsals so the music-making process can begin immediately and as efficient as possible.”

The ensemble’s program consisted of eight songs that all seemed to weave and follow a similar style in genre.

“Since this is Dr. Robinson’s first semester at CCSU, he tried to choose repertoire that would best fit our ensembles. All of the songs also had a connection to church repertoire and praise,” Moore continued.

Kicking off their repertoire was a piece entitled “Laudate” by Knut Nystedt, a song that utilized every range in the ensemble and showcased individual talent. It was clear this ended up being a crowd favorite, due to the heavy applause once the singers finished.

“Even When He is Silent,” a piece by Norwegian composer Kim André Arneson, was one of the more difficult pieces for the ensemble to learn.

“The most challenging piece of music at the concert for me was definitely ‘Even When He is Silent,'” Chapeton continued. “The quality of tone you must have throughout the piece must be of such lightness and blend that requires everyone to be attentive and to truly listen to each other.”

The University Singer’s ended up concluding their program with what seemed to be a favorite.

“The best song of the night for me was ‘Saleso.’ That song was very energetic and fun to sing and perform in front of an audience,” Moore said. Featuring guest percussionist Eric Stefano, the group gave it’s all and delivered one of the programs more energetic and a cappella inspired songs.

“Anyone who truly loves music of all kinds should come listen the choir concert,” Chapeton said. “It’s a program that we work on throughout the semester that is definitely worth anyone’s time, especially since it’s free of charge.”

Robinson and both the Chorale and University Singers successfully showcased their months of hard work in a program filled of notable performances. In case you missed this performance, both choirs will perform their final showcase of the semester on Dec. 6. at 7:30 p.m. in Founders Hall.