During Family Weekend, the Muhlenberg College choir had its inaugural show of the semester. Not only was it the first general performance, but it was also the first performance with new music director Néviton Barros, DMA, adjunct professor of music. Barros programmed a selection of challenging and diverse songs for the choir to sing, in a performance entitled “Everything Is Going To Be Okay,” a title that embodies Barros’ message of positivity that he talked about in his introductory speech. Through this show, Barros wanted to combat fears and anxiousness following the emotional turmoil of the past year and a half and that eventually, life will calm down.
A member of the choir, Steven Belloise ‘25, appreciated Barros’ commitment to having a diverse range of songs. He described the songs as “really beautiful,” and explained that “Dr. Barros really brought a lot of songs from different cultures into our program. For example, ‘Wangol’ is a song in Haitian Creole… Some are Italian, one’s German and there’s a [South] African song, ‘Ukuthula.’” Barros’ choices to use these diverse songs highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic has been a global issue that has affected everyone, but in all these times of turmoil and stress, there is a positive light at the end of the tunnel.
“[Barros] really challenged our musical abilities, he challenged us to really dive into the music… and learn more about what it was asking us to do…”-Sam Tempkin ’25
Within the array of diverse songs, Barros also added a few more contemporary pieces. The standout of these two was “One Day More,” from the musical Les Misèrables. This song, in this context, not only adds a bit of familiarity to the selection but also within the title and lyrics lay a message about how it is only “one day more” until freedom and happiness, “one day more” until hope truly comes. This perfectly aligns with Barros’ overarching message that “Everything Is Going To Be Okay” and that the feeling of relief is not too far away.
Belloise also commented on the difficulty presented by the diverse set. Even with the challenge posed by them, he is “really proud of the work that we all put into it. I think I’m glad Barros challenged us because all the songs on the day came out very nice… I felt like we as a choir did a really great job. And even though there are a lot of times when the songs are frustrating and difficult to deal with, I’m glad that ultimately we overcame it.”
“I enjoyed the challenge and experience of singing such an eclectic program,” stated Josh Freeman ‘23, a long-time member of the College Choir and Chamber Choir.
“Barros is very committed to making people feel included and special in a variety of ways beyond including different kinds of music.”-Steven Belloise ’25
Beyond the song choices, Barros has made a definite impact on the students of the choir even within his first year. Another choir member, Sam Tempkin ‘25 said, “[Barros] really challenged our musical abilities, he challenged us to really dive into the music… and learn more about what it was asking us to do… he was also just so supportive of us, like in our daily lives, and always offered himself as a branch of support. [He] was really pleasant to work with and it was kind of like a breath of fresh air because college life can be a little difficult sometimes.”
Belloise continued, saying that, “Barros is very committed to making people feel included and special in a variety of ways beyond including different kinds of music. He does warmups where we sing that we love ourselves and that we are awesome. Literally, that is what we say. He’s a very nice guy who wants us to take care of ourselves while we work hard to make music. His whole theme, after all, is everything will be okay.” It is clear to see that—even though he has only been teaching these students for a semester—Barros’ focus on positivity and support has made him a stand-out professor that has already made a great impact on these students.
“I got really emotional during one of the songs, which was ‘Let The Life of Love Speak For Me,’” said Spyro Coffin ‘25, another member of the choir. “It’s a song that I’ve been relating to more and more over these past couple of weeks… I think the choir concert went pretty well, and I really enjoyed working with Dr. Barros and Vinny [Vincent Trovato, staff accompanist] and everyone did really well, and I’m really proud of everyone.”