The University Chorale is the newest choral group on campus, as we are a combination of the men’s and women’s choir. This is the first iteration of the ensemble, and on the 100th anniversary of the armistice, Sunday, November 11 – Veterans Day – we had our first concert ever. It was magical.
We pulled out all the stops and knocked it out of the park. We performed two pieces, which doesn’t sound like a lot but get this: both pieces were over 20 minutes long. Yes, you read that right. 20 minutes.
The first piece was called “Jephthe” and told the story of a general who made a vow to God that if his army could win the war, he would sacrifice the first thing he sees when he gets home. Unfortunately for him, the first thing he sees when he gets home is his own daughter. They both weep together, and his daughter says that she will sacrifice herself to save the people. She goes up to the mountains and is never seen again. The war is over, yet all the people mourn her loss.
It’s a very powerful piece. The choir had some choreographed movements throughout the song, symbolizing the fighting armies by standing in three lines facing each other and stomping to the beat, then while on the risers, we all separated so that the female soloist (playing the role of the daughter of Jephthe) could ascend the proverbial mountain, and we all sang to her. Finally, after her sacrifice, the choir (acting as the mountain) closed in on her and sang a song of sorrow.
The second piece was called “A Procession Winding Around Me” which is a collection of poems by Walt Whitman from the Civil War. The piece had four movements: “By the Bivouac’s fitful flame,” which explores the fear and anticipation of warfare, “Beat! Beat! Drums!” which shows the panic and chaos of battle, “ Look Down Fair Moon,” a short, sad song about the disastrous consequences, and “Reconciliation,” which is about coming to terms with that which passed.
The concert was absolutely beautiful, and I am so proud to be a member of the University Chorale and a student of this wonderful university.