Glee Club show features Spanish songs

by Katherine McConnell | 2/12/14 4:10pm

2.13.14.arts_.gleeclub_Josh-Renaud
Metropolitan Opera tenor Hugo Vera helped the Glee Club master its Spanish language repertoire.
Source: Josh Renaud

The Dartmouth Glee Club is full of accomplished classical and choral singers who are more than ready for a challenge — even singing in a foreign language and mastering new rhythmic patterns. For Saturday’s “From Spain to the Americas” concert, the group’s members will perform songs from Spain and Latin America in Spanish.

The first half of the show will sample Spanish Renaissance songs, dance rhythms, Mexican folk songs and excerpts from zarzuela, Spanish musical theater. The second half will feature a gypsy ballad composed of Federico García Lorca poems, which Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco set to music in 1951 and titled “Romancero Gitano.” Guitar instructor John Muratore will accompany the group for the ballad, and pianist Timothy Steele will join the members for other numbers.

Glee Club director Louis Burkot said he was interested in selecting a wide variety of Spanish language music for the show and reached out to tenor Hugo Vera to assist him with the project. Vera has performed at the Opera North in Lebanon, where Burkot is artistic director.

After agreeing to the project, Vera visited the College in late January and early February to rehearse with the club. He will also perform solos in the zarzuela excerpt of the show.

Club president Louis Wheatley ’14 said he appreciated how Burkot’s repertoire selection “covers a wide span of history, culture and geography.” He called mastering the different Spanish music rhythms and regional pronunciations the greatest challenges to putting the show together.

Some words in the Spanish songs, for example, had to be pronounced differently from those in the Latin American songs, which Vera taught the group, Wheatley said. Burkot said students learned quickly and were “able to accomplish things at a high level.”

In addition to practicing diction, Vera said he hoped to inspire students to feel attached to the music.

“I already told Louis that I want to come back next year because I really enjoy working in an environment that is very open, passionate, smart,” he said.

Glee Club, which includes 32 students, has rehearsed four and a half hours each week to prepare for the concert. Glee Club allows students to begin or continue training to sing classical music, a focus that distinguishes it from other campus vocal groups. Some Glee Club members also participate in a capella groups or perform in theater productions.

Jordana Composto ’16, a member with previous classical training, said she enjoyed practicing the varied music and was looking forward to the concert.

“The fact that we’re doing all Spanish [choral] music is pretty uncommon,” she said. “It has been really fun to work on a slightly different sphere of classical music, especially since a lot of people have actually taken Spanish so we kind of know what we’re saying.”

Wheatley said he hopes the turnout will compare to that of the club’s sold-out performance in Rollins Chapel last fall.

“A lot of people say that they find the music really beautiful, and since we are a bigger group we make a bigger sound,” he said. “Many find it to be a really relaxing way to get away from campus stress.”

The concert will take place at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.