GV ensembles showcased at choral concert

Cantate Chamber Ensemble. Courtesy / gvsu.edu

Cantate Chamber Ensemble. Courtesy / gvsu.edu

Jacob Creswell

On Feb. 20, Grand Valley State University’s University Arts Chorale and Cantate Chamber Ensemble performed several vocal arrangements as part of a choral concert. Associate Professor of Music Ellen Pool directed the ensembles on Wednesday night.

With 40 years of experience directing GVSU’s University Arts Chorale, Pool stated that this performance was “a very successful concert.” 

“From my standpoint, the takeaway would be the growth the student examples made from the beginning of the rehearsal process. They started in January,” Pool said.

The University Arts Chorale and the Cantate Chamber Ensemble had been rehearsing the pieces played at this concert since the start of the winter semester. The ensembles consist of over 40 students.

“I think it would be important for people… To know not all (of the performing) students are music majors. Any qualified student would be welcome to audition. Half of them aren’t musical majors,” Pool said.

As listed in the concert program, the University Arts Chorale performed “Cantate Domino,” “Even When He is Silent,” “The World of Our Dreams,” “City Called Heaven” and “Alleluia.” 

The Cantate Chamber Ensemble, a 12-person a capella group which is a selection of students from the University Arts Chorale, performed “Bright Morning Stars are Rising,” “Esto Les Digo,” “In Beauty May I Walk,” an arrangement of “Fields of Gold” and “Five Rounds on Famous Words.

“It’s a wide spectrum of pieces; each one is a little vignette. (The challenge is) to have the students understand and interpret authentically. Each piece has their own personality,” Pool said.

Pool also talked about the emotional weight of these pieces. “Even When He is Silent” is about text that was found on the wall of a concentration camp after World War II. The concert program listed a quote by the original composer of the piece, Kim André Arnesen.

“Imagining what that person went through makes the words so powerful. As I read them, it was a Credo – when everything is dark and difficult in life, you might wonder where God is…This is about keeping faith in God, love and hope.” This quote from Arnesen also describes how she saw the song as a metaphor for hope.

“I always select a variety, thinking of not only students, but also the audience,” Pool said.

Pool will be retiring this spring. She will be conducting one more set of concerts on Wednesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 11.

“(The) choral concert will be singing a mass. It’s a culmination of forty years of being at Grand Valley.” Pool also said that several GVSU alumni will be returning to perform at this concert.

When asked what she’ll remember from her years with GVSU, Pool said, “The joy of every day being able to create choral music with these fine students. That’s (what’s important). That’s it.”