Heidelberg’s premier performing ensemble, the Concert Choir, recently performed Schubert’s “Mass in G” alongside the Toledo Diocesan Choir at the Rosary Cathedral. Senior choir member Emily Hall wrote about the experience.
My name is Emily and I am a senior member of the Heidelberg University Concert Choir. I am a music performance major here at Heidelberg and the choir is a very important part of my Heidelberg experience. I was asked to share what the choir means to me and tell you about our latest project: a joint concert with the Toledo Diocesan Choir and chamber orchestra to perform Franz Schubert’s Mass in G Major at the beautiful Rosary Cathedral in Toledo, Ohio. Schubert’s Mass in G is a missa brevis (short mass) that lasts about 25 minutes for choir, orchestra and three soloists in six movements. Our choir is a touring ensemble and this concert is the first of many concerts that we will have this school year in churches throughout the state and the country.
One thing I love about the choir is all of the traveling we have done together. My freshman year, I went to Germany and Austria with the choir! It was an amazing experience and my first time in Europe, too. I have also toured with the choir throughout Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois with major trips to Chicago and St. Louis.
The other thing I love about the Concert Choir is all of the amazing people I get to sing and travel with. Our choir has about 55 singers that represent a diverse cross-section of Heidelberg students. We have English, biology, education, psychology and music majors and the music we make is spectacular. We work hard, but we have fun because we love to sing together and share our music. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with our director, Dr. Grant Cook, and our accompanist, Kim Ridge. Both Dr. Cook and Kim are alums of the choir and Heidelberg, and they both really care about the students and the music.
Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 -- Director Paul Monachino visits the choir
Today Paul Monachino, the director of the Toledo Diocesan Choir, came to Heidelberg to work with us during our rehearsal time, because he will be directing us for the performance. He is also a Heidelberg alum!
Dr. Cook has a very involved -- and very successful process -- that we use for learning music. We build every piece in layers: We start by reading the piece on solfege (do re mi) and we don’t add text in until we have the notes and rhythms solid. We’ve been working on the mass since our first rehearsal so by this point we are pretty far along in the process. Dr. Cook tells us that as musicians we will spend 95 percent of our time in rehearsal and only 5 percent sharing our music with an audience, so we should learn to love rehearsing and never miss the moments that happen there.
Today was one of those moments. There was such an amazing energy in the room. Paul was fun to work with. It was exciting to experience his Schubert and to run the whole mass several times through. We’ve been doing a lot of detail work on individual movements, so it’s nice to step back and see our progress as a whole. I think Paul was happy with our work and I left rehearsal exited for our next chance to work together.
Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 -- The Rosary Cathedral
Today was our first rehearsal to join choirs and rehearse with the orchestra up in Toledo. We left during our choir time and took a bus for the 45-minute trip to the Cathedral. Today was also our first chance to experience the cathedral’s wonderful acoustics. It is a beautiful and inspiring place to sing in and reminds me of the churches in Europe. The sound was amazing even during our warm-ups; it reverberates through the space with a warmth and fullness.
We will also be singing a set of pieces from our touring program for the concert. We had the chance to rehearse those in the church today. My favorite piece right now is an arrangement of “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me.” There is beauty in the simplicity of the piece and its message. When we first began working on the piece, Dr. Cook told us, “It [music] doesn’t have to be difficult to be profound.” We also are singing two pieces that address the natural world, “The Peace of Wild Things” and “Voices of Earth,” and we will close the concert with a Spanish a cappella piece, “Esto Les Digo” that we will sing combined with the Diocesan Choir.
It was amazing to hear the mass with the orchestra. Two of our faculty members are in the ensemble: violin professor Ioana Galu and viola professor Steven Kruse. The three soloists for the mass are from our choir and today was the first time we had the chance to hear the gorgeous trio that they sing in the Benedictus. We are lucky to have not only a talented choir, but also talented individuals within the group. We left the rehearsal today with very high spirits, excited that we had the chance to sing such beautiful music in such a beautiful space.
Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010 -- Concert Day!
We left at noon today and rode a bus up to Toledo. Dr. Cook always gives us plenty of time to warm up and be ready for the performance without feeling rushed. We met at Heidelberg in our concert attire, the men looking dapper in their tuxes and the ladies elegant in their long, black dresses. We got to the Cathedral, warmed up and were ready to go.
The concert was absolutely spectacular. There was a really nice audience and they received the performance well. When I am performing, time always goes very quickly and soon we were singing “Esto Les Digo,” our last song.
I looked around the choir at the end of the piece and there were many tears. It is always an emotional experience to sing a concert and at the end I was thinking about being a senior and that I won’t have the opportunity to sing much longer with this group that is so dear to me.
After the concert we went to greet the audience and find our friends and family. Many of the friends in my Heidelberg family were able to come and it was great to see them and hear what they thought about the concert. Ed Ayers, a Heidelberg music alum and a dear friend of the choir, was there along with Sarah Harvey, a graduate of the choir from last year who was my roommate junior year. We shared hugs and tears.
One thing that shows how much this choir means to everyone who sings with it is how many of the choir alums keep coming back to support the group and experience the music. Music for me is all about communication and I really felt that today we had the opportunity to share something very special with the other musicians and the audience. I can’t wait for tour next semester and the chance to continue sharing this wonderful music.