Bringing Spain back home
This weekend, the Colby Chorale gave an outstanding performance entitled “Old Chestnuts, New Fire” at the Lorimer Chapel on Saturday evening. Paul Machlin, who is currently in his 37th year conducting the Chorale at Colby, directed the performance.
Students from the Chorale recently returned from their showcase trip over spring break in which they traveled and sang at various sights in Southern Spain.
Chorale performed during a mass at the Mosque Cathedral in Cordoba, a prominent cultural site full of “Hispano-Islamic art” built in the ninth and tenth centuries.
Many of their Spanish songs were performed on the streets of Seville, Granada and Cordoba, as well as at two churches in Granada.
Emma Mayville ’13 had a wonderful time abroad and especially wanted to emphasize the impact the audience made on their performances.
“It was great to see such an enthusiastic audience in Spain; we really enjoyed being able to sing a variety of Spanish songs while simultaneously showing them songs from America. It was also really exciting to then bring our Spain repertoire back to the Colby community,” she said.
The performance at Colby was divided into three sections, each showcasing the beauty of differing types of music as well as the impressive skill level of the group’s 63 vocalists.
The first section featured sacred music, and captivated the audience with soothing melodies while simultaneously demanding the audience’s attention as vocalists struck some impressive notes.
Opening with “Salve Regina,” the Chorale exhibited a harmonious synchronization of soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices.
The last piece from the sacred music section was titled “O Salutaris Hostia” and exhibited beautiful melodies and enchanting harmonies. When the initial delicate notes hit demanding climaxes as each vocal part gained momentum, the entire audience seemed to draw a breath.
After a brief intermission dividing this section from the remaining two, the Chorale journeyed to the Iberian Peninsula for Iberian music for Chamber Chorus.
Each of the vocalists returned to the stage wearing brightly colored shirts, contrasting the previously classic uniform of black bottoms and white shirts. Their costumes aptly reflected the new music—it was a lighter, more upbeat collection of pieces.
The final section featured music of the Americas, showcasing modern and folk songs from the United States and our neighbors to the south.
The Chorale premiered young composer (and a former guest faculty at Colby) Ryan Vigil’s “Untitled,” a work commissioned by the Colby Chorale.
Vigil’s piece utilized the structure of the Chapel to explore the dynamics of sound. Machlin noted the rich textures Vigil’s piece explores, as the vocalists were divided and arranged around the Chapel by vocal range groupings.
Each vocal grouping has its own unique melody. The piece explores the way in which the timbres combine as the textures intensify and recede, adding and subtracting different voices and their constant, traceable melody.
After Vigil’s new work, the Chorale returned to Latin selections, which exhibited the exciting rhythmic syncopation and harmonic inflections indicative of the Latin music.
My personal favorite song within this final section of American music was the Chorale’s fantastic rendition of “Wade in the Water.” This was a great inclusion to the group’s performance as it both showcased the Chorale’s talent and prompted several members of the audience to mouth the words with them.
The concert was an excellent way to experience what kind of music the Chorale “has performed both across the Atlantic and here in Waterville. It was a real treat to see student music touching such a full audience and watching them having fun while doing so.