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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Chamber Singers summon spring

Perhaps the voices of the Chamber Singers at tonight's concert, "For lo, the Winter is Past" will inspire spring to take hold in Hanover. The group's repertoire celebrates winter's end and captures the anticipation of spring and summer, undoubtedly reflecting the sentiments of the Dartmouth campus.

Their songs relating to the seasonal changes include early American songs by William Billings as well as spirited drinking songs by Schubert.

The performance is interspersed with several Italian madrigals -- lighthearted songs based on short poems which illuminate the joy of spring. Choruses of "fa la" add a sense of playfulness to already jovial lyrics like Morley's "Now is the month of Maying, when merry lads are playing."

Modern music from composer Arvo Part and William Hawley provides a striking contrast to the more traditional sounds. With powerful almost dissonant chords, Part's "The Beautitudes" reflects religious dimensions of seasons.

Along with their variety of music, the Chamber Singers experiment with arrangements. Dividing the thirty-member ensemble into all-male and all-female groupings, the ensemble demonstrates its depth and enables the audience to hear more clearly the male and female ranges. Emily McConnell '97, Steven Fox '00, Laura Gibson '99 and Sean Parr '99 form a quartet and combine the talents of seniors and underclassmen for the Old French piece "Yiver, Vous N'Etes Comme Vilain"(Winter, You Are Not But a Villain).

A quartet of seniors -- Pauline Esguerra, Tim Daleiden, Andy Schoenhard and McConnell -- provides one of the evening's highlights with Morely's "April is in My Mistress' Face" which relates the aspects of the woman to the months of the year. Multiple solo performances, including those from voice faculty member Erma Gattie, and Esguerra, accentuate the program.

After joining Fox and Parr on a lively Schubert drinking song, Padraic Malinowski '97 adds to his role as tenor and conducts the choir in Weelkes' "To Shorten Winter's Sadness."

Although most pieces in the performance are a capella, music department faculty members Marcia Cassidy and Greg Hayes provide accompaniment for select pieces. Cassidy accents "Fly Singing Bird, Fly" and "Snow" on the viola while Hayes accompanies on piano. The spring performance marks the first year finale of ensemble director Charles Houmard who replaced Melinda O'Neill, the group's founder. Houmard, who currently teaches music theory at Dartmouth, is also currently working towards his doctorate in musicology at the University of Texas, Austin.