Around the World: College Choir and Chamber Singers

By Anamika Dutta

College of the Holy Cross’s College Choir and Chamber Singers performed an “Around the World” concert on Friday, October 21. Directed by new choir director, Ingrid Lestrud, the singers showcased music from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Despite the thunder, lightning, and flash flood warning Friday night, the concert in St. Joseph Memorial Chapel was well-attended by family and friends.

The concert commenced with “Hlohonolofatsa,” an African greeting song. Soloist Blaze Hilario was alone on stage, while soloist Teresa Murphy sang from the back of the chapel. The rest of the choir was spread out at the sides of the chapel and as the song progressed, they filed onstage in a fun and lively manner that had the audience clapping along by the end. The next song was “Babethandaza,” an African spiritual song, which started with only two voices from each of the four vocal sections. The entire choir then joined in for the chorus. Both of these African pieces incorporated rhythmic clapping and stomping, adding to the overall performance of the songs. Jonathan Yasuda, choir pianist, made his debut on percussion for these two songs, joined by Robert T. Jones and his student, Hiram Gandia.

Following songs from Africa, the choir performed an upbeat South American song, “!El Cielo Canta Alegria!,” which means “Heaven is Singing for Joy” in Spanish. Switching gears, the choir then began their set of European songs, which commenced with “Northern Lights,” a slow and melodic Norwegian song about the beauty of nature. Next, they sang, “Dirait-On,” from “Les Chansons des Roses,” “Esta Tierra” (“This Land”), and “Paso” (“Passage.”) Chamber Singers, consisting of various members of College Choir, then took the stage to perform their set of North American songs. From “The City and the Sea,” composed by renowned contemporary composer Eric Whitacre, Chamber Singers performed “I Walked the Boulevard,” “Maggie and Milly and Molly and May,” and “Little Man in a Hurry.” These energetic and fast-paced songs were excellently delivered by the Chamber Singers.

Following their set, Chamber Singers were joined again by College Choir to round off the evening with songs from Asia. “Naiman Sharag,” a Mongolian song from the 13th century, reflected the story of the eight chestnut horses of Chinggis Khan. Ying Hong sang a solo in this piece and the rhythmic tune and patterns throughout made it feel as though horses were marching through the chapel. The final song was A.R. Rahman’s “Balleilakka,” a Tamil song from a popular Bollywood film. Soloists Christian Hirsch, Leela Mennillo, Hannah Gabriel, and Chris Little performed the difficult language and tune of the piece incredibly well. “Balleilakka” was definitely a crowd favorite, with everyone moving along to the beat by the end. The concert concluded with “Songs of the Holy Cross,” during which alumni in the audience came onstage to sing with the choir. Over all, “Around the World” was a beautiful and energetic concert.

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