by: Catherine Goldberg ’20 A&E Staff
On Sunday, November 3, the Providence College Department of Music presented “An Hour of Choral Music,” conducted by Fr. Vincent Ferrer Bagan, O.P., and accompanied by Michael Kregler on the piano. The hour-long concert in the Ryan Concert Hall of the Smith Center for the Arts, filled with traditional Christian psalms, Gregorian chants, and African-American spirituals was a breathtaking success.
The Concert Chorale is a large mixed ensemble open to all students interested in singing at PC. The group reflects the diverse music interests and talents present on campus. I Cantori is the premier choral ensemble of PC. The singers consist of both full-time, undergraduate music majors, and non-music majors. These students are committed to innovative and quality performances and reaching the ears of others through choral music.
On Sunday, the two music groups collaborated to put together a fall concert, including performances of pieces by di Lasso, Brahms, Elgar, Rene Clausen, and Michael Kregler. They also performed a lively and engaging arrangement of African-American spirituals by Andre Thomas and Moses Hogan. The groups sang a diverse music selection, giving both choirs an opportunity to synthesize traditional, Renaissance, spiritual, and ethnic pieces of music.
Concert Chorale opened the show and impressed the audience with their impeccable ability to perform pieces in Latin. “Salmo 150” exposed the liturgical music tradition to the audience. The choir continued with a Mode VI chant entitled “Ave Verum Corpus.” After performing three pieces in Latin, Fr. Vincent introduced an African-American spiritual piece “My Good Lord’s Done Been Good Here.” This piece, written by Andre J. Thomas, originated from an oral tradition that imparted Christian values while describing the hardships of slavery. “African-American spirituals are a lot of fun to sing and an important part of the American choral repertoire,” says Fr. Vincent. The choir sang the passionate lyrics soulfully, invoking feelings of hope and joy, pondering the many milestones African-Americans have overcome throughout history.
Following Concert Chorale’s performance, the combined choirs took the stage to perform a Spanish song, “El Rio,” describing a celebration which takes place yearly in Colombia in preparation for Ash Wednesday. The upbeat tempo of the song, including drums, clapping, and dancing, engaged the audience in the performance. Next, the choir sang perhaps the most beautiful piece of the night—a love song entitled, “O My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose.” This piece, written by Rene Clausen, a professor of music at Concordia College, was written as a gift for his wife on Valentine’s Day. He recorded his students performing it, and presented it to her when returning home from work. The sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses all harmonized beautifully.
To close the night, I Cantori presented three more Latin pieces, including a Mode VIII chant, a piece based off of a passage from Leviticus, and three Psalm pieces. They also performed the famous “Simple Prayer” of Saint Francis, composed by Charles Forsberg, in an attempt to display that life is not about doing good for personal gain, but doing good for others.
Fr. Vincent was “pleased with the performance, and feels that the singers and audience were as well. It was a shorter performance than what [they’ve] generally done, which allowed [them] to focus on honing and memorizing a smaller amount of repertoire.”
Both choirs will join with Campus Ministry choirs for the annual Lessons and Carols service in St. Dominic Chapel—this year on Saturday, December 7. Fr. Vincent is always looking for more singers, so anyone interested in joining can contact him at email@example.com or talk to any of the singers.