GVSU hosts first chorale concert

Nicole Bobb

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The music and dance department at Grand Valley State University presented the final choral concert of the year with the Cantate Chamber Ensemble, Select Women’s Ensemble and University Singers Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cook-DeWitt Center on the Allendale Campus.

Cantate Chamber Ensemble is under the direction of Ellen Pool, while the Select Women’s Ensemble and University Singers are directed by Shirley Lemon.

“I auditioned for Cantate at the end of my freshman year because I thought the group was so incredible and I wanted to be a part of such a prestigious musical group,” said GVSU senior performer Kristin Boris.

Boris has been a member of the Cantate Chamber Ensemble and University Arts Chorale since the beginning of her sophomore year and performed in the Select Women’s Ensemble previously.

The evening program included a variety of festive and holiday songs including: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Ola Gjeilo, “Alleluia” by Fredrik Sixten, “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” by Gareth Treseder, “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” by Ola Gjeilo, “Pentatonic Alleluia” by Ross Whitney, “The Winter’s Night” by Nicholas Myers, “Ad Amor” by Lee R. Kesselman, “There Is No Rose” by Z. Randall Stroope, “A Jubilant Song” by James McCay, “The Pasture” by Z. Randall Stroope, “Carol of the Bells” by M. Leontovich, “The Bells” by Frank Ahrold, “Winterscene” by Carl J Nygard Jr. and “Kyrie” by W.A. Mozart.

The concert concluded with both choirs and audience members joining together in song with “Night of Silence” by Daniel Kantor.

“My favorite part of the concert was performing ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ with my ensemble,” Boris said. “We worked extremely hard on that piece and it’s always such a humbling experience to collaborate with the wonderful musicians in Cantate, whom I consider my dear friends.”

University Singers and the Select Women’s Ensemble collaborated on “Pentatonic Alleluia”, a song based on a five-note scale where one can sing any note at any time and all the notes fit together.

There were seven groups spread across the stage and around the auditorium. Each group had its own soloist who sang the melody, which was then repeated back by the entire section, all at different times.

As the sections continued singing, the next soloist sang, creating seven melodies simultaneously sung by 70 singers.

Pool invited Lemon to GVSU after Lemon retired from Grand Haven Area Public Schools.

“I wanted to be close to her and to see her work,” Lemon said. “I love it here. I think that the students here are fantastic.”

Lemon recently came to direct the Select Women’s Ensemble and has directed University Singers for the past four years.

“Sometimes women’s choirs are relegated to second-class citizens because often you have to have the men and the women together to be good and I just think that it doesn’t matter who is in the choir, it can be a spectacular group and make spectacular music,” Lemon said.

University Singers is always looking for new members and does not hold an audition to join.

“Music has the power to hold us together and to lift us up, and I always want to be a part of that,” Boris said.