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On May 22, the KSC vocal ensembles presented their Spring Choral Concert, featuring all three vocal ensembles.
The performance was directed by Dr. Matthew Leese, who conducts Concert Choir and Vocal Consort, and Dr. Sandra Howard, who leads Chamber Singers. Leese explained his enthusiasm for this special concert.
“We don’t very often have a full length combined concert that’s all three ensembles, so that was really exciting for me to be preparing for, with Dr. Howard and with Concert Choir, Vocal Consort, Chamber Singers, all kind of preparing for the same mission,” Leese said.
The entire concert was pre-recorded due to the COVID-19 guidelines that prevent live singing. A majority of the repertoire was recorded in the Alumni Recital Hall, but the vocalists were also given the opportunity to sing at Saint Bernard Catholic Church.
“Everyone just loves singing at St. Bernard’s because it’s off campus, it’s in the community, [and] it has one of the best acoustics around. So in some ways, that was kind of a silver lining, because if we were performing the whole concert in the recital hall, we wouldn’t have had that acoustical experience,” said Howard.
The concert was only available to watch via livestream, as the recital hall was reserved for the ensemble members. The singers sat scattered throughout the seats to enjoy the fruits of their labor together. The concert was set to start at 7:30 p.m.. However, it was delayed by a fire drill that went off right as the show was about to begin. Once the audience was back inside and settled into their seats, the livestream began.
The first group to perform was Chamber Singers, an all-treble auditioned ensemble. They presented seven pieces, including “O Love”, joined by Dr. Rebecca Hartka on the cello, and “Les Norvégiennes”, which was conducted by Junior Hattie Skvorak. Howard expressed her excitement for Skvorak’s piece.
“She chose a piece that has a lot of vocal technical challenges. It’s a very quick French diction piece, which I think was a great challenge for the singers because we had to be really agile with our voices and spit out lots of diction, and it had a lot of conducting challenges for her,” said Howard.
Skvorak was one of four student conductors featured in the concert. She was joined by Rowan Hebert, who conducted for Vocal Consort, as well as Breahna Jenkins and Topher Clark, who both conducted for Concert Choir.
“Having four student conductors is really amazing, to have the peer leadership. But also, I think it speaks volumes about the quality of the music education degree. I’m so proud of those students being confident enough to stand up in front of their peers and lead them every week, every rehearsal… They have all excelled,” said Leese.
In the middle of Chamber Singer’s final song, the concert was yet again put on pause due to a second fire alarm going off. Thankfully, this was the last interruption of the night.
Following Chamber Singers’ performance was Vocal Consort, which KSC’s website describes as “a small, auditioned vocal ensemble dedicated to medieval, renaissance, and baroque repertoire.” Their repertoire consisted of six pieces, the last three all conducted by Hebert.
After their performance, the show took a brief intermission for the Pi Kappa Lambda Induction Ceremony, a national music honor society. The commemorated musicians included students Lucas Mendelsohn, Nicholas So and Hattie Skvorak, as well as music faculty member Dr. Christina Wright-Ivanova.
Finally, the concert concluded with the performance of Concert Choir, a non-auditioned ensemble that is free for all students, staff, and faculty to join. The ensemble sang a total of seven songs, including “Te Quiero,” “Homeward Bound,” which was led by Jenkins, and “Raise You Up/Just Be” from musical Kinky Boots. All three pieces featured a number of talented soloists.
The night ended with an acknowledgement to the four student conductors, recognition for the two collaborative pianists Vladimir Odinokikh and Christopher Evatt, and a farewell to the seniors of the music department, who were sent off with well wishes for their future careers as musicians.
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