Handel Society seniors hit final crescendo College careers

by Liz Ellison | 5/9/07 1:21am

The Handel Society tours extensively -- above, they perform in Boston. Last winter, the group toured for two weeks across Europe, a trip which Handel senior Tom Wang '07 calls one of his favorite experiences with the group.
by Courtesy of the Hopkins Center / The Dartmouth

"I didn't know what else to do, so I started singing," said Wang, who plays piano but was new to vocal performance. He auditioned for conductor Bob Duff in his sophomore fall, and has been with the Society ever since.

"It's been a new experience, singing with the choir," Wang said. During this past winter break, Wang participated in the Society's European tour, which brought them to Vienna, Salzburg, Verona and Florence for performances over a span of about two weeks.

"I've never really had the experience of traveling around so much just performing," said Wang, who cited the tour as one of his favorite experiences with Handel Society.

Wang's involvement in Handel Society eventually led him to join the Chamber Singers, which Duff also conducts. In addition, Wang plays piano in the Dartmouth Chamber Orchestra and is preparing for his solo senior piano recital the week after Handel Society's concert. On top of everything else, he's writing a biochemistry thesis.

"I've had a really good experience with Handel Society," Wang said. "It's one of the most rewarding and most interesting things that I've participated in in college."

Wang will be on campus over the summer to finish up distributive requirements, but he plans to take time off after graduation before applying to medical school.

"If there's a way for me to keep singing I would still like to do it," he said. "Since I've come here, even though it was never part of my life before, it is now."

Unlike Wang, Elizabeth Terry '07 is fairly new to Handel Society, but had been working with Duff as a member of the Chamber Singers before joining.

"I have been a member of the chamber singers since my freshman fall, so I've been singing with Bob for three years," she explained. "This year, Bob asked that some chamber singers be open to joining Handel Society." Terry, who sings second alto, joined the Society during Fall term and decided to remain a member for the rest of her time at Dartmouth.

Looking back on some of her most memorable experiences with the ensemble, Terry was also quick to mention the winter tour.

"It was awesome," she said. As a history major, Terry especially loved traveling around Europe, and even got a chance to visit sites related to her thesis on Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

"We made beautiful music and we performed it in unique and historical venues," Terry wrote in a letter of thanks to the provost for providing scholarships for students going on the tour. "I feel that as a result of the tour, I understand this vocal instrument I have been blessed with even more."

Terry is off to the University of California at Berkeley in the fall, where she will pursue a doctorate in early modern European history. She plans to be involved with Berkeley's university chorus.

"It just makes me happy to sing," Terry said. "I've enjoyed singing with Bob Duff for three years. He's a great conductor."

The Handel Society's upcoming spring concert will mark its 200th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, acclaimed composer Andrea Clearfield was commissioned to create a new piece, "Fire and Ice: A Cantata on the Poetry of Robert Frost." The work will be performed for the first time at the concert next weekend.

"It's a very challenging piece, but in rehearsal we're beginning to hear how it all fits together," Terry said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

The Society will also perform Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy in C minor" and Brahms's "Nanie," and will feature a number of special guests, including pianist Sally Pinkas and the Hanover Chamber Orchestra.

Handel Society's 200th Anniversary Celebration will be on May 19 at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium. A pre-performance discussion with Clearfield and members of the Society will be held at 6 p.m. in Spaulding, and a post-performance reception will follow in the Top of the Hop. Tickets are available through the Hopkins Center box office for $3 for Dartmouth students and $18 for general admission.

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