Glee club will perform spring concert in Rollins on Sunday

by Elise Higgins | 5/5/17 12:00am

The Dartmouth College Glee Club’s seniors will perform in their final concert this upcoming Sunday, when the glee club performs excerpts from Handel’s “Semele” and Haydn’s “Te Deum.” To honor this poignant occasion, glee club director Louis Burkot will place particular focus on the group’s seniors, many of whom credit the glee club with allowing them to continue to pursue their passion for classical music in college.

Susanna Kwon ’17, a mezzo-soprano and co-president of the glee club, said that she was serious about pursuing classical music and joined the glee club because it was the closest thing she could get to a choral environment at Dartmouth.

To honor the seniors’ final concert, Kwon and four other seniors will be featured in an a cappella piece, “Hark, All Ye Lovely Saints Above.” In addition, Kwon and Min Jee Kim ’17, the other co-president of the glee club, will be performing arias. Burkot said that both soloists are extremely accomplished and have worked with him closely during their four years at Dartmouth.

Benjamin Nesselrodt ’19 said that he, like Kwon, wanted to join glee club because of this emphasis on classical music. Nesselrodt was involved in classical singing in high school and was enthusiastic to pursue his love for classical singing at Dartmouth. Nesselrodt said that his experience with the glee club has been “incredible.”

His good experience may be due to Burkot’s understanding of the glee club’s importance as many students’ primary classical music outlet in college.

“I train the singers to learn how to be great musicians and ensemble singers and have their singing reach the highest level that it can possibly reach in four years,” Burkot said. “It’s my job to shape that and nurture it in a way to help them achieve their goals.”

In addition to working with each other, the glee club members also frequently interact with professional guest soloists. Burkot said that he enjoys having guest soloists because he feels that they can impart additional wisdom to the students about classical singing.

The glee club demonstrates what groups can accomplish with classical training, and all of the singers work hard despite the fact that the repertoires can take a while to learn, Burkot noted.

“Unfortunately with classical music, unless it’s performed really well, it sometimes can be difficult for an audience to appreciate because sometimes the simplicity or the dignity of it is lost,” Burkot said. “But when it is performed really well, then the responses are really incredible.”

However, the club also incorporates other types of music such as a cappella, orchestral music and staged works, Burkot said.

“It’s been really great to be able to sing a lot of different genres,” Kwon said.

Kwon added that she also enjoys getting to interact with other students who may have different academic interests but are equally passionate about music.

In preparation for this upcoming spring concert, glee club members have logged many hours of practice. For this performance, a nine-person orchestra will join the glee club.

“Usually I reserve the spring concert for things that I think are definitely going to take time to percolate before we accomplish them because people are constantly turning over with the [D-plan],” Burkot said. “It takes time to assimilate what it is I’m looking for.”

Kwon said she enjoys working on music for a long period of time then seeing it come together.

“I think anytime we’re able to do a larger work that we have to work on for the entirety of a term or multiple terms, having that come together with an orchestra is an awesome experience,” Kwon said.

The different pieces range from opera to English folk songs. Kwon said that the pieces are exciting because they go in unexpected places, so each section must be independent and strong. Nesselrodt also feels a strong affinity for the pieces, especially for their lyrics.

“They’re orchestral in nature but also very beautiful lyrically,” Nesselrodt said.

The concert will take place this Sunday at 2 p.m. in Rollins Chapel.