Concert and Chamber Choirs

Williams Concert and Chamber Choirs
"Emotions Aloft: Romantic A Cappella Choral Music"

Brad Wells, director

Passport – Dept. Ensemble

As a follow-up to their recent sell-out concert with the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra in the ’62 Center and a premier performance at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, the Choirs present a concert which demonstrates that they do not need an orchestra to make them shine. Nor for that matter do these singers need any instrument at all, except for humanity’s most basic and compelling instrument: the human voice. It is an experience that never fails to touch the soul.

The Choirs perform nineteenth- and early-twentieth- century works of fury, fables and fervor: motets by Anton Bruckner, settings of Goethe and Rückert poetry by Robert Schumann, and dramatic miniatures by Claude Debussy, among other works.

The program features some of the best known and some of the least known gems of a cappella choral music from the Romantic era, a diverse collection of composers and texts — British, French, German and Russian. Of the best known is the glorious Bogorodiste Devo by Rachmaninoff from his All-Night Vigil, a piece that enjoyed the distinction of being banned in the Soviet Union for its deeply devotional character. The miniature Dieu! qu’il la fait bon regarder by Debussy, a shimmering setting of a love poem by nobleman Charles d’Orléans written during his imprisonment after the battle of Agincourt.  Of the least known the Concert Choir will present Schumann’s collection of Four Songs for Double Choir, op. 141 — rarely heard yet powerfully expressive settings of poems by Rückert, Zedlitz and Goethe. Featured student conductors are Chaz Lee ’11 and Rob Silversmith ’11.

Williams College has long had a fine tradition of music performance in its choral ensembles. Brad Wells, Director of Vocal Activities, has helped that tradition flourish. The choral program has much to offer students interested in singing, with a number of performances throughout the year, a wide range of repertoire, recordings and tours.