By Kathryn Moore
A performance of choirs representing five separate Union singing groups performed Nov. 8 at First Baptist Church of Jackson.
The Department of Music’s fall choral concert showcased the newly split Union’s men’s and women’s choirs — formerly Choral Union — as well as University Singers and the Voices of Proclamation.
The audience, made up of community members and choir students’ friends and families, was surprised to hear the University Singers begin the evening concert with an a cappella piece performed in German titled “Abendlied,” a prayer for God to “abide with us.”
“As far as I know, we have never started a performance from the balcony,” said Lauren Hyndman, sophomore music education major and University Singers member. “We wanted to surprise the audience and also set the tone for the evening.”
The 12-man men’s choir performed several pieces, including one composed and directed by Cody Curtis, Union department of music alumni and assistant men’s residence director. The song was one of Curtis’s original hymns, “Let All Creation Bless the Lord,” that he re-scored for the men’s choir.
“This, to my knowledge, is the first-ever concert of the Union University Men’s Choir,” said Dr. Chris Matthews, associate professor of music and the director of Men’s Choir, University Singers and Proclamation. “I’m so proud of them and the work they’ve done this semester.”
Judging by the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction, the audience’s favorite was a song called “Good Ole A cappella.” The men used their voices to create all the different sounds in the song, all while snapping their fingers and connecting with the audience.
Alex Sanchez, freshman athletic training major, said he did not think the first men’s choir performance could have been better.
“We were serious on all the other songs, but on [“Good Ole A cappella”] we decided to let loose and allow ourselves to act a little crazy while still keeping the integrity of the music,” Sanchez said.
Women’s Choir, under the direction of David Dennis, professor of music, also sang songs that stretched the use of their voices. Songs such as “The Nightingale” and “Bumble Bee” included several groups singing various notes and sounds at different times. When the groups sang together, each song actually sounded like its respective title: a sweet, soothing nightingale and a buzzing bumblebee.
University Singers, an audition-only choir, performed songs in different languages, including German, French and Russian.
“Dr. Matthews has to make sure everyone is saying the lyrics correctly because it is difficult to memorize songs in a language you don’t speak,” Hyndman said.
The Voices of Proclamation, a small audition-only ensemble, only sang two songs at the concert in order to make time for the other choirs. One of the songs, “Dúlamán,” performed by the Proclamation men, is a Gaelic song about seaweed that was enhanced by the men stomping to the beat of the song for emphasis.
The University Singers ended the evening with the lively Southern spiritual “Way Over in Beulah Lan’” because, as Matthews said, “You’ve got to have a good Southern spiritual if you’re having a choral concert.”