Wilshire Auditorium came to life Wednesday night, as the theater played host to the annual Fall Choral Concert with stellar performances from both Concert Choir and Chamber Singers.
The choral fall concert is a special one as it signifies the start of something new, Director John Tebay said to the audience. Just a couple months ago, all these people who had never met each other came together to create music and the end result is nothing short of spectacular.
The hour-long show featured an array of pieces, from traditional gospel to foreign war songs.
Concert Choir’s opening piece “Domine, labia mea aperies,” divided the choir in two, with half the singers gathered in the back of the auditorium. This created two choruses echoing each other, filling the auditorium with a lush, full sound. Though the piece was an a capella, not a beat was missed from either chorus. The first sopranos led the melody beautifully, followed by a powerful sustained crescendo that filled the room, chilling every spine in the house.
Taking off in another direction, the group continued with an upbeat piece “Baba Yetu,” which is the Lord’s prayer in Swahili. This song was soprano Kylene Palestino’s personal favorite.
“We use drums which adds a beat to it,” Palestino said. “It’s definitely the most fun song of the bunch.”
Joined by percussion, the song had an African groove that you couldn’t help but sway to. Soloists Gian Manahan and Terrie Bodie complemented each other perfectly, their voices carried by the beautiful harmonies created by the chorus in the background. The group also employed sign language to supplement their voices, adding intensity to the already magnetic piece.
“Bright Morning Stars” featured soloist Jordan Fox, who exhibited excellent control of his voice, unleashing his vibrato at just the right moments, effectively conveying the emotional nuances in the song’s message. The piece climaxed splendidly at a powerful fortissimo that rung through the auditorium.
The group finished out with “I’m A-Rollin,” a gospel piece that brought out the best in the singers. Not only did they convey it with their voices, you could see in their faces the passion they have for their craft.
Up next, Chamber Singers took the stage and performed all their songs a capella.
They opened their performance with Henry Purcell’s “Hear My Prayer, O Lord,” an incredibly nuanced piece with constantly shifting dynamics. The song starts out almost hauntingly soft at a mild pianissimo, then slowly crescendos into a brooding forte, only to settle right back down again.
This stark contrast between dynamics is seen again in the group’s following piece “Ergebung,” by Hugo Wolf.
“In the midst of the storm, trembling, I see your hand,” the group sings in German.
Like the waves of the ocean in the midst of a storm, the singers shifted seamlessly between dynamics, from thundering choruses to delicate whispering of lines. German is not an easy language to sing but they pulled through with incredible diction, nailing every syllable. Tight harmonies were held together nicely, marked by a beautiful tenor line.
The most unique piece of the night was reserved for the very end. Hitting just below the eight minute mark, “Scenes From the North” is an ancient Filipino war song about a town mourning the inevitable loss of lives from the battles. The song had the singers using various mouthing techniques to mimic sounds of nature, such as birds chirping and flutes playing. Listeners were taken on a journey through music and through the twists and turns of a country at war.
“The song is very dramatic and multi-dimensional,” said Jojo Torion, bass. “With lots of sounds and elements, it’s really unique for a choir. It’s modern and contemporary.”
The song moved at a steady pace, picking up at the scene of the soldiers marching off into war. The scene of the war itself was dramatic and riveting, with stomping feet and beautifully commanding chords that captured the dips and dives often experienced in war. Through all this, the singers showed significant stamina and challenging syncopated parts were nailed perfectly.
The show ended on a high note, with hopes high for the upcoming fall season.
“I feel like it’s a good start to a wonderful year,” said John Tebay, choir director. “Some things were a little bit rough but they sang well. It’s just a really good start to what I believe is going to be a very strong year.”
The next choral concert will be held Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. This will have performances from the Men’s and Women’s Chorale. Also upcoming is the Holiday Choral Concert Dec. 5.
For more detailed information, visit music.fullcoll.edu.