Sunday afternoon in Dvorak Concert Hall guests enjoyed EIU Choral Ensembles and Honor Choir Festival Singers as they sang “Songs of Love.” This was a celebration of love performance honoring Valentine’s Day this week.
The University Mixed Chorus walked across the stage and onto the stage risers to the applause of the audience. The ladies were dressed in long, wine-colored dresses with the men dressed in dark suits, white shirts and bow ties. April Lee was the conductor while Austin Stout provided the accompaniment.
“The Water is Wide” a Folk Song adapted by Luigi Zanielli (b. 1932) was the first offering of the afternoon. Austin Stout made the piano sound like rippling water bouncing over stones in a small creek. Very relaxing.
“Come to Me, O My Love,” by Allan Robert Petker (B. 1955) was an upbeat love song. “Listen my love to the song I sing; Calling to you in a beautiful song; Gently, so gently it beckons you home; Circling around you and carries you home.”
“Will He Remember?” from the Three Mountain Ballads arranged by Ron Nelson (b. 1929) was the last number by the University Mixed Chorus.
The Concert Choir led by Conductor Richard Robert Rossi, accompaniment by Patrick Ward replaced the University Mixed Chorus on stage. As the University mix Chorus left stage right the Concert Choir walked up stage left.
“New York Girls, Op. 46, No. 5” by Kirke Mechem (B. 1925) was a fast and happy number. Patrick Ward had the piano keys trilling. It was a story of a sailor John who took a New York girl to Tiffany’s and bought her golden earrings for fifty cents. I don’t think one could do that today in New York.
“Winter” from the Life of Love” by “Z. Randall Stroope (b. 1953) was an analysis of love when one person of a couple is aware that the end of their life is approaching.” Ah come close to me. Come close to me.” I wanted to shut my eyes and just soak in the music on “Winter.”
“The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus (B. 1949) was led by Eastern Illinois Graduate Conductor, Sehong Oh. It was beautiful and soft but theatrical. This was performed a cappella. The pianist joined the chorus as they sang.
“In Time of Daffodils” by David Dickau (b. 1953) led by Conductor Rossi was the last of the Concert Choir’s offerings. This was a difficult piece performed magnificently by the Concert Choir. The lyrics go: “In time of daffodils (who know the goal of living is to grow) forgetting why, remember how in time of lilacs who proclaim the aim of waking is to dream, remember so (forgetting seem) in time of roses (who amaze our now and here with paradise) forgetting if, remember yes in time of all sweet things beyond whatever mind may comprehend, remember seek (forgetting find) and in a mystery to be (when time from time shall set us free) forgetting me, remember me.” This is so mentally picturesque.
Then the District 5 Honor Choir under the direction of Conductor Richard Robert Rossi, accompanied by Patrick Ward was next. These students wore robes that were their school colors I believe.
The area High School’s Honor Choir Festival Singers from Charleston with Juliane Sharp, music director were Jessica Huddleston, Allie Sterling, Brook Robinson, Becca Simpson, Michael Drake, Elijah Magee, Evan Bower, and Danny Hudson. From Marshall with Heather Setzer, Music Director were Tori Day, Cassidy Sullivan, Amanda Evinger, Ruthann Gorell, Nick Cline, Wyatt McConchie, Dean Evinger, and Brandon Sanders. From East Richland with Heather Setzer, Music Director were Iva Benson, Kelsie Ocha, Clair Downes, Chloe Miller, Trevor May, Joshua Wiggs, Anthony Ochs, and Derek Sager. From Casey-Westfield with LeeAnn Higginbotham, music director were Jonna Aidanpaeae, Lace Enlow, Darbie Thompson, Tayelar Grafton, Elizabeth Murphy, Robbie Gladu, Dalton Jannsen, David Bell, and Jake Hoult. From Maroa-Forsyth with Christopher Weisenborn, music director were Abbie Keith, Rachel Tomlovich, Sarah Hallam, Madeleine Hubbard, JT Grider, Chapman Schanefelt, Sam Faber, and Luke Slusarski.
These young vocalists were awesome starting with “Rise Up my Love, My Fair One” by James McCray (b. 1938). This was accompanied by Kate Henry on the flute. Next was “If Music be the Food of Love” by Michael Larkin (b. 1951). “Mistress Mine” by Michael Larkin (b. 1951) was their last offering before the Grand Finale. I’m sure their music directors are very proud of their performance.
The Grand Finale consisted of the combined choirs with Conductor Richard Robert Rossi and Patrick Ward, accompanist. There were over 91 vocalists on the stage. This combined group had only rehearsed once on Thursday evening and a short time at Noon on Sunday. Their “Not a Day Goes By…” by Stephen Sondheim/arr. by Robert Pagetv sounded like they had been rehearsing together for a long time.
It was a fantastic afternoon in the beautiful Dvorak Hall in Doudna Fine Arts Center in Eastern Illinois University. I’m looking forward to more beautiful music this semester.
Carolyn Stephens of Charleston is an arts enthusiast and reviewer-at-large for the Journal Gazette/Times-Courier. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.