“Music is a powerful form of self-expression; it tells a story,” said Ainsley Hilfiker ‘20, who is a member of College Choir. “Singing is a universal tool, and … although we all come from different backgrounds, it often has the ability to touch people in some way.”
Almost one hundred student musicians and singers dressed in black attire filled the stage in Egner Memorial Chapel for a collaborative concert on the evening of Thursday, Apr. 26. The concert was opened to the public, and audience members consisted of students, faculty and parents. A box for donations was placed at the entrance of the chapel for the Fistner family, which includes a Muhlenberg employee, whose house and belongings were destroyed in a fire.
The concert was the first of a two-night series, as the performers also presented the same classical pieces on Saturday, Apr. 28, at Allentown’s St. John’s Lutheran Church.
The first half of the concert was composed of classical instrumental music performed by the Muhlenberg College Chamber Orchestra, which was directed by Daniel Boring. The orchestra was comprised of student violinists, violists, cellists, bassists, flutists, harpists and timpanists. Professor Stephen Williams played the organ.
Beautiful French classical music could be heard from even the last row of the audience in the chapel. The orchestra played French classics, including Jean-Baptiste Lully’s “Chaconne” from Roland, Charles Gounod’s “Allegro Molto” from Symphony No. 1, Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Adagio” from Symphony No. 3 and “Baccanale” from Samson and Delilah, and Georges Bizet’s Suite from Carmen: “Les Dragons d’Alcala,” “Habanera,” “Seguidilla,” and “Toreadors.”
After the orchestra’s performance in the first half of the concert, there was a brief ten-minute intermission during which the performers took the time to prepare and set up for the second half of the concert with the College Choir.
The collaborative component of the evening consisted of the students from Muhlenberg College Chamber Orchestra and College Choir and was conducted by Dr. Christopher Jackson.
All of the classical songs were sung in Latin as traditionally performed in a Requiem setting; however, translations of the lyrics of each song were provided in the program so the audience could follow along and understand what was being sung.
The classical selections were all from Gabriel Faure’s Requiem in D minor, including “Introit et Kyrie,” “Offertory,” “Sanctus,” “Pie Jesu,” “Agnus Dei,” “Libera me” and “In Paradisum.”
Ben Dawn-Cross ‘20, who also sang in the collaborative concert, said that during choir rehearsals, which occur twice a week, the singers went through their repertoire.
“Usually we target specific points in certain pieces that need touching up, though this semester we mainly focused on the Fauré,” said Dawn-Cross.
Both the Choir and the Orchestra rehearsed the pieces separately during the semester. They only had about three or four rehearsals with both groups together, though Dawn-Cross said that they “gelled fairly quickly.”
Dr. Jackson also shared background information about each piece before they were performed. He also shared his gratitude that the chapel allowed this big collaboration to happen, as it had a big enough space for all of the musicians and singers to perform together, though this presented a challenge for the singers.
“The hard part was working with the acoustics; the chapel’s acoustics aren’t the best, so we had to project very well in order to be heard properly,” explained Dawn-Cross.
It is not often that almost one hundred students of diverse musical talents get to perform a concert together. This collaborative concert gave these students a chance to work with and explore each other’s skills, creating something with more impact than either of the groups could separately.
As Dawn-Cross said, “I love singing because it’s probably the most innate way to express myself musically — everyone is born with an instrument within them.”