Benjamin Martins / Equinox Staff

Keene State’s Concert Choir gave their final performance of the semester at the Redfern Alumni Recital Hall on Saturday, Dec. 10.

The choir performed in a number of languages and musical styles, occasionally accompanied by a hand drum, piano, symbols, and a tambourine. 

Sriracha Ruest, a senior choir member, said, “[We] perform a few pieces in English, at least one spiritual piece, and a few pieces in foreign languages. The different songs are used to target different musical techniques. For example, some pieces have more staccato sections. This requires the choir to have accurate timing and strong articulation.”

In regard to practicing different techniques, Ruest added, “Our director, Dr. Sandra Howard, is thorough in her explanations of what she’d like the choir to do, as well as the choir being effective in acting upon her instructions. This semester we struggled with articulation, which is what helps words sound clearer to an audience.”

Dr. Sandra Howard, the choir’s director, said, “Concert choir has a fine group of singers…I focus…on music literacy, I treat it…like a group voice lesson for development…the hope is that they’ll have a well-rounded experience, in terms of how to get their voice to sound in different styles and different languages.”

Senior Emma Bishop said the pieces come from composers of various different backgrounds.

[Howard] thinks about what could challenge us and how we can grow from it…She wants a diverse range of composers, BIPOC, and women composers. She thinks about languages to keep up the variety…style of song, and I’m sure she puts even more thought behind it,” said Bishop.

Bishop described practicing as “mostly…during class, but Dr. Howard assigns a score study to really enhance our learning about the pieces…it could be looking at the story behind a piece, it could be singing a few measures from it. It could be singing in a duet or with a group of people outside of class. So those have really helped keep me on my toes to really grow.”

The ensemble performed pieces titled “Break Forth,” “Hallelujah,” “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree,” “Riu, Riu, Chiu,” “Anthem of Peace,” “Va Pensiero,” “Sing Gently,” “Still, Still, Still,” and ended with “A Concert Panorama” by American composer George Gershwin. 

In addition to learning musical techniques, Ruest mentioned that the pieces allowed the ensemble to focus on emotion during their performance. 

“We are a choir that is able to effectively perform a variety of languages and genres in an engaging way,” Ruest said. “There are pieces that will stir up emotion, like Va Pensiero, as well as pieces that will get people to want to sing along, like our Gershwin mash-up.”

Howard said that the ensemble connected well with the Gershwin mash-up. 

“I think the Gershwin is one [the choir] really connects to, they really bring out their best…performance personas, I think that will be a highlight…in their heart of hearts, where they really shine is the Gershwin,” Howard said. 

Bishop added that she hopes the audience had “a lot of excitement, especially with our last piece, that’s kind of…our showstopper piece…I’m hoping that at least one song for each person will touch someone and just have them leave with a deeper meaning.”


Benjamin Martins can be contacted at

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