Archive for the ‘College Choir’ Category

Choir Week: the Sequel

August 24th, 2015 by jdharris

Hello friends,

Allow me to introduce myself: Phillip, PJ if you must, Chamber Singer (tenor, natch), sophomore, awesome. I have some rather thrilling news I’d like to share with you. In the hopes of being as eloquent as possible, I thought you should know:

YA BOY IS BACK ON THE HILL!

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Starting tomorrow (“9 am sharp!”), Choir Week will officially begin. It’s the second (and counting) since director David Harris’ reign as choral maestro extraordinaire.

For those of y’all who are in the dark about Choir Week, it’s when your favorite collegiate choral ensemble gathers a week before classes to get to know each other, learn some nifty vocal techniques, and start learning our repertoire for the semester. The basic day-by-day formula goes as such: Warm up-sing-eat-play-sing-sing-sleep. Of course, it wouldn’t be Holy Cross Choirs without a few surprises, so you can count on Dr. Harris to shake things up on the reg.

Choir Week 2k14 was great for me, especially as an incoming freshman. David allotted plenty of time for both work and play, so by the end of it, I’d learned a whole lot about my voice and made more than a few friends to boot. This year, I’m excited to welcome the handful of new members, and explore some new music. I’ll also be leading sectional rehearsals for the first time ever. Pray for us.

Section leaders will undergo a crash course on leadership tomorrow, and the rest of Chamber Singers will join us on Tuesday. So, wish us luck, happiness, and healthy vocal chords.

The Choir’s fall semester is on its way!

 

~Phil Losquadro ’18

Face lifts and Rep fits

August 4th, 2015 by jdharris

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As the summer comes to a close, so does a spate of new renovations on the choir room.  Essentially, the room got smaller so that the neighboring bathroom could get larger, but we did get a new storage area out of the deal, and will add a slightly new visual angle with risers focused toward the south facing windows (to be installed next summer).

I’ve also been hard at work landscaping the repertoire choices for the year.¬† Among highlights are some catches, madrigals, Brahms waltzes, staged opera and musical choruses, a new Stabat Mater by Jonathan David, some Schutz Passion, Christmas favorites, Bach’s “Magnificat”, Poulenc’s “Gloria”, several tunes from the world of pop culture (a little Cold Play, some Tennessee Ernie Ford, and maybe some Beatles for good measure), a dose of Stephen Foster and William Billings, a touch of Benjamin Britten, and a chance at several other collaborations that are forming in the heat-filled last days of summer.

The thing I love most about planning for this group is their flexibility, their keen insights, broad interests, and the sheer joy of making music with them.  Each concert is themed, of course, and the ones this year will have a more pronounced dramatic arc, giving the singers a little more to delve into, and the audience a little more to hang on to.

New rooms and new chances to explore life and learning through one of life’s greatest endeavors.¬† What more could an HC singer ask for?

For those of you with calendars out, the dates are:

Oct 23 8:00pm “Pa$$ion” St. Joseph Memorial Chapel

Nov 19 8:00pm “Love and The Fire” Brooks Hall (Chamber Singers)

Dec 10 8:00pm “Lessons and Carols”¬† St. Joseph Memorial Chapel

March 19 7:00pm¬† “Reflections” (part of the Major Works Series) St. Joseph Memorial Chapel

April 22 8:00pm “Lights Will Guide You Home” Brooks Hall

 

~David Harris, Choir Director

As You Like It

June 17th, 2015 by Julia Dunn

“And why wouldn’t I like that line?” It’s an honest question, and I can practically hear the quizzical note in his professorial voice, indicating that he’s raising an eyebrow at me. It’s as though what he’s really asking is “Now, Julia, is there anything WRONG with having an emotional response to your letter?” I don’t respond right away trying to formulate the right response. No, it’s not that he had an emotional response, that’s what every writer wants to hear, but what he had an emotional response to. The thing is that whenever you create what ever form of art is your forte, you expect it to have a certain effect. You start to think that part a might cause the reader to roll his or her eyes, the notes on page four will make him or her laugh and maybe even that this line on page 8 will provoke a tear or two. When things don’t follow your emotional outline, it makes you pause. It’s odd that things can have an effect that you didn’t anticipate. It almost doesn’t make sense, but it also makes you feel proud that you could have an impact that you didn’t anticipate. And, this was the second time this week that I’d experienced this reaction.

The first instance: in my living room a few days after we returned from Argentina. I was cataloging trip photos that I’d received from various members of the choir. As more and more emails came in and pictures started to fit into neat categories, I paused over one set of them. Written in broken English was an email from one of the adults who helped the orchestra of underprivileged kids we’d worked with one night.

It was a simple message. Translated it essentially read: “Here are the pictures you wanted and thanks for working with us. We had fun. Good luck in the future.” The grammar wasn’t perfect and the email was simple enough that it shouldn’t have marked me in any way. And it didn’t. Nor did the pictures that accompanied it. In fact, at the time I didn’t think much of it other than it’s pretty cool to communicate with someone living in Argentina.

So what changed my mind?

Well, after hours of cataloging pictures, uploading the decent ones to Facebook so that the rest of the choir could see them, and tagging all of my friends, I started to notice something. The pictures that got the most likes were the ones featuring the kids. And the people who liked them, weren’t just the choir people but actually some of the kids that added us to their “Friends” list on Facebook. Through this simple action, it dawned on me that we really had become a part of each others lives.

To be honest, there is a part of me that questioned the idea of the service aspect of our trip. I’m not saying that working with the kids wasn’t a worthwhile experience, but going through it, I wouldn’t have paused to say “wow this is moving,” or “we’re definitely helping these people.” Yes, we could see the poverty. Yes, we knew that in some small way that we helped to make them forget some of their personal hardships. Yes, we even knew that they were not financially well off and subsequently relied upon the generosity of Argentina’s socialist party for the small room they currently rehearsed in. There was no doubt that this group was one that deserved to get something special out of the evening. But really, was what we brought them all that special? Were we more than just privileged Americans looking on at what life is like for those living in a developing nation?

Realistically, all we’d done that night was a round of vocal improv and tried to get the kids to feel comfortable with singing a few verses of John Mayer’s aptly pointed song “Waitin’ on the World to Change” with us. Both activities came from a genuine desire to do something positive with these kids. Our goals as a choir was to forge a connection, both within the music and with the students. We knew that due to budget concerns, the loss of the music they so enjoyed could be a reality for them in the near future. Our joint rehearsal and performance for and with each other was moving, but I couldn’t say that I felt like I had really made a difference or inspired any of the students.

When these same students showed up at our formal concert the next night and “Friended” some of us on Facebook, however, I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrow. They had come from hours away to see us. Us, a choir that they’d met yesterday, whom they had already heard perform, and they still came, (some spending their own meager allowances to take a long bus ride to see us). Having made an impact on them was undeniable in that respect.

Thinking back on the meal which followed out experience with the Arranque Orchestra, this should not have been a surprise to me. The voice of Holy Cross’s Study Abroad coordinator hung in the air over us: “You don’t know what you’ve done for them,” he said. “You have no idea how long the impact of something like this will last.” At first it sounded like the typical Holy Cross speech: we can all change the world if we try by living the Jesuit mission. It’s a nice thought, but it’s one that we hear so often that almost seems routine. As he continued, however, you could see that he genuinely believed in what he was saying. Maybe it’s because he looked like Jesus that I wound up buying into his speech by the end of it and remembered it a day later. Maybe it’s because on some level, I did feel moved. To be honest, I’m not quite sure. But, I will say this, whatever small thing we did for these kids, he was right, it made a difference to them. I might dread vocal improv and be less emotional than your average volunteer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see just how much this sort of thing can mean to someone else.

So, in the present, when my friend says things like your words “were touching,” with a subtext of “Julia this really meant something. Get over it.” I’m forced to concede that while I may not have intended for him to respond the way that he did, that my gift of words, much like the choir’s gift of music, did have some sort of deep and unforseen emotional impact. Both “gifts” brought us closer to the people they were given to. It might not have been what I personally thought I had given these people, it was what they felt I did – that something small and innocent and human gave them a moment to feel loved and connected to something outside of themselves. It’s crazy how any form of “art” can have an this unforeseen powerful effect.

In the present, I put my phone aside to answer him later and instead glance at my laptop. It’s still open to the tagged picture of HCC and El Arranque in that small one room practice space. Of course, as usual, this particular friend is right. “Have whatever emotional response you want to Argentina, I’m glad that the choir I am a part of has inspired you in some way.” I for one might not cry over it, but if any of them are so moved, by all means they can cry (or don’t) for us. Argentina, we, as a choir, have given you all we had to offer either way.

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– Julia Dunn '16

Still Day One

June 3rd, 2015 by Julia Dunn

It started off as a typical day: we all woke up in a sleep deprived haze, ate our now daily bread and cheese breakfast, boarded a bus to the sound of Paige’s headcount and ventured to the token church of the day, this time one in a famous Jesuit Mission. Oddly enough, despite how moved David felt, as we sang from the choir loft, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of routine. This sort of thing is who we are and what we do here and now: we visit churches and we offer some sort of impromptu performance each day (today in a choir loft, others in places like the local Starbucks). That’s not to say that the church wasn’t beautiful and that our performance didn’t impact the people who heard it. On the contrary, both of those things are true. Wherever we had gone and performed we were met with the smiles and laughter of the Argentinian people. But my point, is that as great as this sort of thing was, this beauty, had come to feel like part of a routine: get up, travel, sing somewhere slightly obtuse, repeat at least once daily – essentially be the traveling Von Trapp family.

The beauty of yesterday, however, stems from an interruption to this routine. We knew in advance that this performance in the Cultural Center of C√≥rdoba was our last show of the year and for many of us, it was the last time we’ll ever sing together or maybe even see each other. I had to fight back tears knowing that our “core four Chamber Singer altos” will never sing together again: Nina will be abroad next year, Hannah’s switching to soprano and I’ll have graduated before Nina comes back from her year abroad. The feeling of loss from knowing that things would never be the same hung over us. We took pictures, we smiled, we pretended it wasn’t goodbye, knowing full well that in some ways it was. But the thing of it is, this sadness inspired us.

Knowing that it was our last moment as a part of this particular group, we poured all that we had into the performance. We smiled under the stage lights and danced to “Uptown Funk” for the last time, each of us allowing our motto (“Altos: we have fun”) to echo through our minds. We let our feelings inspire our performance. We said goodbye through song.

At the end of the show, at dinner in a gorgeous restaurant, we toasted our successes. “I almost cried after Soneto!” “We actually got that note right!” “That was the best we’ve ever been.”

I wrote earlier of something different in the air here. At the time, I had no idea of what that was. As the days ticked by and we joked about it still being “Day 1,” I came to realize that the “something” I’d been feeling was a tremendous amount and love and inspiration for the group I’ve led for the past year. We’ve never had a better performance. I’ve never been so proud.

– Julia Dunn ’16

Our-gentina

May 30th, 2015 by pjlosq18

Hello friends,

My name is Phil Losquadro, rising soph/your favorite tenor, and¬†I’m here to fill y’all in about our second day in Buenos Aires (the 28th). Get ready!

After a busy first day of traveling, singing, and celebrating Nina (aka the Beyonce of choir)’s 20th birthday, we were happy to rest and recharge for the next one.¬†We started our second day of with a tour of the Teatro Colon, a world-famous opera house renowned for its incredible (and Pavarotti-approved) acoustics. The interior was absolutely stunning, and we were even allowed to view a rehearsal of the Teatro’s production of Swan Lake. (Side note: we are now taking bets on how long it will be until Laurel* makes her debut there.)

After the tour, we walked down La calle Florida. It’s this incredible street that goes for blocks and blocks, and we took some time to look around/use whatever amount of Spanish we remembered from high school with the locals. Later, we found ourselves in an¬†interesting bookstore that was converted from an old theatre. No hablo mucho espa√Īol, as√≠ no puedo leer los libros, but it was super nice to look around.

The big event of the day, though, was our workshop and rehearsal. We met with El Arranque, an orchestral group for middle and high school students in Buenos Aires. Many of these kids come from low-income families, and the orchestra provides them with a way to foster an appreciation for performing arts. We performed a few songs for them, and had the Arranque kids join us for a vocal improvisation exercise (Carley’s riffs were golden as always). Their director (also named David!) had his orchestra play for us, and he and David (of the Harris variety) led their respective groups for a joint performance of “Shenandoah.” It was also a really nice surprise to see our fellow Crusaders who are studying abroad in Buenos Aires!

The passion that El Arranque expressed was tangible. It was evident that they loved spending their time making music, and they were so friendly and welcoming. I enjoyed seeing how, although we may come from different places, music can overcome any language barrier. It was an inspiring moment, for them and for us, and hopefully one of many to come on this trip.

I’ll be back on June 1st! Till then,
Phil

*Laurel Mehaffey (noun): 1. Resident Vocologist of HCC. 2. Professional tree climber. 3. Prima donna-to-be. 4. Title pun creator.

David leading El Arranque and the choir in a vocal improv

David leading El Arranque and the choir in a vocal improv

Lunchtime feat. Rose and Emma

Lunchtime feat. Rose and Emma

Swan Lake at the Teatro Colon

Swan Lake at the Teatro Colon

Double Davids!

Double Davids!

Strangeness and Charm

May 27th, 2015 by Julia Dunn

Extranjeros: the Spanish word for foreigners which, oddly enough, especially when pronounced with a thick Argentinian accent, sounds like the English word, strange.

After an 11 hour flight, this was the word that marked our entrance into Argentina. “Extranjeros aqu√≠:” two simple words which were printed in all white capital letters, with a footnoted sized explanation bellow. “Welcome to Argentina, just so you know, you’re a stranger here,” it seemed to be saying. Even without the translation, I knew what the words meant and of course that everything would be different once we left that airport. Gone was the small comfortable word of Holy Cross where everyone wears boat shoes and Vineyard Vines. In it’s place, was a terminal plastered with political ads and trees that looked crooked compared to HC’s upright Elms. It was as though literally everything was strange and different. Even the air felt different in my lungs.

After those 11 hours though, this “strangeness,” this new and totally different world, was something that I was willing to embrace. Okay, granted I probably could have used a few more hours of sleep, we all could have, but there was something in this strangeness that made us all alert. We each seemed to have that classic “Oh. My. God.” moment nonetheless. Forget the fact that there’s only 2 (maybe 3) hours of sleep in our systems, that’s irrelevant. This place, Argentina, is so new and different that we force ourselves to stay awake … even though at 4:07 AM there isn’t much you can see.

As we move onto our hotel and through the city, we learn just how “strange” everything here really is: the coffee is infinitely better than Kimball’s, the food consists mostly of different meats that we’ve never been served for breakfast before, you can’t turn a corner without the sight of something deeply political, everything is (not surprisingly) in Spanish and there’s a completely different culture. Our tour guide, Valeria, calls it a “mixture of New York City and France,” but it feels like something entirely its own. As we listened to the cries of protesters, walked through the church where Pope Francis was formerly the Archbishop, and sang “Lux Aeterna” in front of the grave of Eva Perona (Evita as most of us know her), none of us could deny the uniqueness of this experience. Like I said, there’s even something in the air that makes it all feel so movingly different. It’s like the blood of the city starts to run through your veins with each step you take. In an odd way, despite being an “Extranjero,” you can’t help but feel the heaviness of the city’s history and gasp at it’s beauty.

Yes, we may not be a part of this city in the way the natives are, and yes, it is all strangely new to us, but being a stranger and seeing all of this through our eyes is something beautifully positive. It’s a new experience for all of us and something so different from what we’re used to that none of us would dare to call this type of strange something negative. Now, as we wait for our 4:30 gig, where we have the chance to really meet and work with native musicians, we’ll all start off as strangers once again. But, much like our relationship to the city, as our time together continues, we’ll form a bond that regardless of how well we know each other will undoubtedly be beautiful in its newness.

– Julia Dunn, ’16

Watch Us, anytime

May 24th, 2015 by jdharris

One of my favorite parts about being the choir director is getting to go back and see the amazing work that the choir has done all year.¬† It’s pretty inspiring to hear their voices changing, and watch the passion and artistry that went into each concert.¬† Thanks to Tim Rice ’16, the EBoard’s Media Chair, you can enjoy our year too, whenever you like, by visiting our YouTube channel.¬† There are many highlights from the year up now, and more to join over the summer.

Like this one, the Chamber Singers performing the premiere of Colby Baker’s ’15 “Soneto IX“.

 

~David Harris, choir director

 

 

 

Argentina Here We Come!

May 14th, 2015 by jdharris

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At the scene of our last rehearsal before the choir’s first international tour in nearly a decade. They sound amazing! It’s going to be a great week of singing and exploring Buenos Aires and Cordoba.

 

~David Harris, Choir Director

Celebrating Two Milestones

May 14th, 2015 by jdharris

As the 2014-2015 year winds to a close, we have a lot to celebrate. Among the many exciting developments, we have the new Catherine Award for Service and Leadership inductees, Julia Dunn and Abe Ross, both of whom have been selfless in their commitment and leadership throughout the year. Julia’s keen insights as Board Chair, her sensitivity to group dynamics, and deft organizational skills, and Abe’s prodigious musical talents as Assistant Conductor helped the group solidify and grow in unpredictable ways.

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The EBoard, after two years of soul searching and organizational thought, have completed and ratified a constitution that outlines the governance of the choir. Thanks to EBoard members Julia Dunn, Adam Ouellet, Diana Hurtado, Tim Rice, Rose Fusco, Sloane Burns, Nicole Costa, Hannah Gabriel, and Ally Rancourt for their service, and to last year’s EBoard for getting us started.

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Congratulations to everyone!

 

~David Harris, Choir Director