Last Sunday, Nov. 2, audience members piled into Kresge Hall awaiting the Knox College Choir’s Fall Concert, a tradition which has filled Knox with music for over a century. As was expected, this time-honored event was a success, and left viewers at once deeply content and hungry for more. The night’s program included four classical pieces: “Angelus ad Pastores Ait” by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, “Alma Redemptoris Mater” by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and the movements “Lacrymosa” and “Domine Jesu Christe” from Mozart’s “Requiem,” all of which were sung by the Knox College Choir under the direction of Laura Lane.
This stunning compilation was followed by a short montage sung by the Knox Chamber Singers — an intensive subdivision of the main choir — which included “Bogoroditse Djevo” by Arvo Part, “Ubi caritas” by Ola Gjeilo, and — an audience favorite — “Tell My Ma,” a traditional Irish folk song arranged by Jon Washburn. This last number featured Knox College Choir’s very own sophomore McLeod Sumner playing the fiddle, post-baccalaureate soprano Rose Dolezal as soloist, and guest performer Vice President for Finance and Administration Services Tom Axtell playing the spoons. The audience responded well to the Chamber Singers’ instrumental accompaniments.
After those three pieces, the rest of the choir rejoined the Chamber Singers on stage for the last two numbers of the event. The first, “The Stars Stand Up in the Air” by Eric Barnum, was accompanied by Casey Dierlam on the piano. The audience responded ecstatically to the piece.
The last song of the event, “Little Man in a Hurry” by Eric Whitacre, was a more melancholic, contemplative piece. Throughout the song, the choir oscillated between a fast-paced staccato when singing the words “Little man in a hurry,” and a slow, soothing legato when singing the words “Little child.” The overall effect of the piece rendered the audience speechless, and somewhat choked-up as they were told to “Halt, stop, forget, relax.” Needless to say, the Knox College Choir’s Fall Concert went out with a bang.
Although the Knox College Choir fosters students’ talent and creativity, almost all of the choristers have had in-depth musical backgrounds prior to their coming to Knox.
“I started playing the fiddle when I was seven … and I have been in choir since sophomore year of high school,” Sumner said.
Freshman Aiden Murphy, also a bass and member of both choirs, shared his story as well.
“I was forced into choir by some girls in my seventh grade science class,” he explained comically, before adding with the utmost sincerity, “I really owe a debt to them, because I love choir now.”
Dolezal expressed similar feelings of love, saying, “Choir has been a very solid foundation for me at Knox. Everything else has shifted a lot, but I’ve always been in the Knox Choir.”