Glee Club will perform love songs for Valentine’s Day concert

by Haley Gordon | 2/11/15 6:05pm

Any student who walks into the Hopkins Center on Saturday afternoon will be greeted at the door by the sound of the Dartmouth Glee Club singing classical love songs and Beatles arrangements.

Glee Club director Louis Burkot said that while the choice of this concert’s theme — love songs — was obviously linked to the date of the concert, choosing the songs required more deliberate thought.

He said that he aimed to find songs that had messages with which the singers could identify so that they could better convey the emotion.

“There are a lot of love songs, but some of them are difficult to project,” Burkot said.

Their song selection will include love songs spanning multiple eras, from the 1800s to the modern day.

The program will begin with a selection from two waltzes by Austrian composer Johannes Brahms, he said. The selection will be accompanied by two students on the piano.

“Brahms was interesting because he was very successful in his professional life but not in his personal life,” Burkot said. “A lot of his songs have this underlying tone of unrequited love.”

While the Brahms pieces are in German, members of the Glee Club have experience singing songs in other languages — the group had learned a selection of songs in Spanish during the fall term as part of their visit to Cuba.

Glee Club member Hallie Reichel ’18 said that the hardest part of learning a new language is becoming comfortable with the sounds.

“When you’re singing in another language you focus on the notes at first,” she said. “But as you move on you focus more on making the language sound natural.”

Glee club member Connor Regan ’18 said that while learning how to sing in another language was challenging, Burkot helped the members learn.

After the Brahms pieces, the Glee Club will perform Eric Whitacre’s “Sleep,” which is set to a poem by poet Charles Anthony Silvestri.

Burkot said he wanted to break up the program with another theme, this time focusing on dreams.

“A lot of times a whole program of love songs can be a little monotonous, so I thought I’d change it up by introducing the whole idea of lovers and dreamers,” Burkot said.

The concert will conclude with four Beatles songs — “And I Love Her” (1964), “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964), “Eleanor Rigby” (1966) and “Yesterday” (1965). Burkot said that the “timeless” feel of these classic songs made it easier for the students to learn the arrangements, as most had some experience with them before.

“I was happily pleased to find that all the members of the group were familiar with the songs,” Burkot said.

He said that the next step for the group was working on isolating the emotions of each piece and “zeroing in on the mood.”

He said that he began planning for this event following the fall concert, which he described as a “big blowout” concert involving a hired orchestra and featured solos by students. To offer a more diversified training, Burkot said that he decided on having the other two concerts of the year focus on other techniques and genres. He said that winter term has a distinct feel, due to the loss of several members of the club due to their D-Plans

“I program for the specific group of singers I have at hand,” Burkot said. “Winter term over the last seven to 10 years I would say tends to be now the smallest group of students on campus, and that’s usually reflected in the population of the group.”

He said that while the drop from 40 singers in the fall to 32 in the winter might not seem significant, it does change the group’s composition and sound.

“That actual number does change what the group sounds like,” Burkot said. “It allows them to sing things with a little more intimacy to them.”

The venue choice reflects this sense of intimacy, as Burkot chose the Top of the Hop over a more traditional concert hall setting.

Hopkins Center publicity coordinator Rebecca Bailey said that she thinks the location of the concert will draw in potential audience members.

“Once you set foot in the building you’ll hear this glorious music just pouring all over the place, and we hope that people will hear that even if they don’t know about the concert and be drawn to go see it,” she said.

The Glee Club features students from all classes, with a nearly equal distribution between both classes and vocal parts. The strength in this group has been their intuition concerning the music, Burkot said.

“There’s a certain quality about the singing that’s very natural. They understand very clearly what I’m asking for. What you’re probably going to see is a really strong communicative effort,” Burkot said.

Overall, the concert will have a very positive mood with a positive message about love, Reichel said.

“I think people would like to come to this concert because it’s very classic Valentines Day,” she said.

The Dartmouth College Glee Club’s concert will begin at 4 p.m. at the Top of the Hop with no charge for students or the general public.