Choirs collaborate on performance
Members from the Southeastern Women’s Chorale, Concert Choir, University Chorus, Northlake Performing Arts Society, Northshore Chorale and the Community Chorus of the River Parishes perform at Columbia Theatre. Allison Crady
Columbia Theatre resonated with a variety of vocal talents as a mixture of regional choir groups came together for a performance featuring Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms."
The Department of Fine and Performing Arts along with Northlake Performing Arts Society (NPAS) sponsored the event held Tuesday, April 17. Dr. Alissa Rowe, vocal area coordinator, conductor of the Southeastern Concert Choir and assistant professor of voice, came up with the idea to combine choirs.
"The music calls for so many parts that you need more than one group singing or there's not enough sound coming out," said Rowe. "We thought it'd be fun to share it between different groups, and I think it's one of the best concerts we've ever done. It was worth it."
The Southeastern Women's Chorale, Concert Choir and University Chorus combined with NPAS, Northshore Chorale and the Community Chorus of the River Parishes to perform two songs from Randall Alan Thompson's "Frostiana" as well as three songs from Leonard Berstein's "Chichester Psalms."
The first concert to have the combined choir groups was held three years ago and featured Mozart's "Requiem." This was the second combined performance and the first time the Community Chorus of the River Parishes participated.
"We're trying to get the groups together every other year and get a really good large group of vocal performers to make it fun for the community," said Rowe.
The concert began with Southeastern Women's Chorale filing onstage in long black dresses to sing several selections from Gwyneth Walker's "Songs for Women's Voices" accompanied by Raisa Voldman on piano.
The Southeastern Concert Choir, accompanied by the orchestra, followed with "How Can I Keep From Singing" arranged by Ronald Staheli and "Fern Hill" by John Corigliano (c. 1938).
"Today's performance has been really phenomenal," said Nikki Everette, a junior nursing major. "I like the way people sing and how their voices work really well with the instruments. I also enjoyed the vocal variety, how the bass and tenors collided well with the women."
After a brief intermission the stage filled with a 160-voice choir as well as a full orchestra, including two harps and six percussionists.
During the "Chichester Psalms," the finale of the concert, five soloists performed, one of which was a 12-year-old named Aaron Richert. The other four soloists were Karista Filopoulos, Anastasiia Ped, Jordan Leggett and Damian Faul. The quantity of musicians and vocalists as well as the quality of the selections and talent created an intensity in the music that captured the audience's attention.
"The last piece was particularly exciting. It was a change-up from the first half, which was music that was really sound and melodic, but the last half was kick-butt," said Bruce Martin of Slidell. "It rocked with all its syncopated rhythms. And with the young man singing, I'll admit it brought tears to my eyes."
Several of the choral members commented on their appreciation of the musical selections as well as the talented conductors.
"It's been a pleasure to work with such amazingly talented conductors as Mr. Sears and Dr. Rowe on such an incredible piece as the Chichester Psalms," said Jarred Frey, a sophomore vocal performance major. "To be able to bring Berstein's great work to Southeastern is an immense honor and a memory to treasure."
Overall the praise was high and the production was well-received. The auditorium was full with an audience of all ages. Many of the guests noted that the performance united the community.
"I really enjoyed the feel of it, being able to hear all the different voices. I also loved the harps and the strings," said Alyssa Davis, a junior English education major. "I think it's really cool to see everybody from the different groups and all the people from the community come together."
For more information on future events contact the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at 985-549-2184.
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