Douglas choirs entertain with classical and contemporary compositions

Douglas College Choirs in Concert review

By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer


On Saturday November 24, the Douglas College choirs (which consist of the Chorus and Chorale) transformed the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts theatre into a venue filled with classical and contemporary music compositions.

Eric Hannan, the concert’s conductor and a music faculty member for choir ensembles and voice, gave some background information about the choirs and the concert.

The choirs are made up of music students at Douglas College. In addition, “the big choir [the Chorus] also has community members in it from the local community,” said Hannan in an in-person interview with the Other Press. They hold concerts in November and March.

Frances Ancheta, a member of the Chorale and a first-year student in the Foundation for Music Therapy Studies Program shared her thoughts about the importance of classical music, which she described as “a refresher. It’s a refresher to the typical music that you hear on the radio, [and] the typical music you have on [your] phone,” said Ancheta in an in-person interview with the Other Press.

The female vocal ranges from the large Chorus started off the classical portion of the evening with Andrea Siemens’ 1994 arrangement of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” The male voices later joined into the song.

The male singers’ vocal presence was also evident with the second song—Francis Poulenc’s 1941 arrangement of “Salve Regina.” The bass singers’ deep vocals acted as an intriguing contrast to the angelic sound of the sopranos.

The contrasting vocal ranges also added to the classical feel when some of the members belted out a section of the second song—for what seemed like a second—and then continued to sing the piece softly.

The higher vocal ranges illuminated the theatre once again when they started off Stephen Caracciolo’s 1992 arrangement of “There is No Rose of Such Virtue.” The female voices’ operatic, angelic singing blended quite nicely with the male singers who chimed in later.

To serve as a balance to the soft, classical, cathedral-esque songs, the Chorus’s performance of Leonard Bernstein’s 1965 three-piece composition of “Chichester Psalms” added an energetic feel to the performances. Close to the far-left side of the stage, Alberta Chan played the harp for some parts of the composition while Robert Caldwell’s percussion performance added a loud, tinkering, booming effect to Chan’s soft harp playing.

The soloists’ performances of the compositions reintroduced the multigenerational audience to the seraphic classical compositions. Chan’s harp playing together with the soprano soloists’ vocals felt reminiscent of the music from some historical epic films, such as Alexander and Gladiator, that often have grand, majestic scores.

Later, members of the audience who yearned for contemporary music had their eagerness satisfied when the Douglas College Chorale emerged on stage. The Chorale performed Eric Barnum’s upbeat 2007 arrangement of “Jenny Kissed Me.” The members performed the song with some spunk—presumably re-enacting the tingling sensation the subject of the song feels when Jenny kisses him.

Using Gene Puerling’s 1985 arrangement, the Chorale also entertained the audience with their performance of Maschwitz and Sherwin’s 1940 composition of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” The soloist’s performance seemed to resemble the singing style that the titular nightingale would have used in Berkeley Square.

The concert ended with the Chorale, who entertained the audience with four Christmas songs that included John Burt’s 1963 version of “All and Some,” Andrew Carter’s 1981 “Spanish Carol,” Jack Halloran’s arrangement of “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and a 16th-century German hymn, “Quem pastores.”