This semester’s choir concert features a rare component: a student composer and a student conductor.
Along with the rest of Chamber Choir, sophomore Jonathan Edelblut will sing his original composition “as is the sea marvelous,” based on the e.e. cummings poem. Senior Faith Liu, a music and English double major, will conduct the Chamber Choir’s performance of “The Conversion of Saul.” The Hillsdale College Choir and Chamber Choir will perform their spring concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 24 at College Baptist Church.
“Jonny did such a good job: and to think that someone my age could produce something so excellent,” sophomore Mark Naida, who has been in Chamber Choir for three semesters, said. “And Faith just really knows what she’s doing. She’s taken a lot of conducting with Holleman, but she also does a different thing and I think is able to bring out other things in us. It’s just a new perspective on what a conductor should be doing, which is really nice.”
Music Department Chair James Holleman said he can’t remember ever including a student composition in a major performance, and he has only featured one or two student conductors during his time at the college.
The 26-member Chamber Choir will perform several pieces, including an arrangement of “Amazing Grace,” before the 112-member College Choir performs. Among other pieces, the College Choir will perform Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms,” sung in Hebrew.
The Chamber Choir performs a capella, but the College Choir will be accompanied by a reduced orchestra: senior Mikayla Brown on harp, Assistant Professor of Music Derek Stauff on organ, and Teacher of Music Stacey Jones on percussion.
Teacher of Music Debbi Wyse, who accompanies the choir in rehearsals and has not missed a concert for 35 years, cannot be present this year because of a family commitment.
“I am so disappointed to miss this concert,” Wyse said in an email, “because I have sung Bernstein’s ‘Chichester Psalms’ several times and I have always wanted our College Choir to perform that work.”
The song selections do not follow a theme, Holleman said, but are chosen individually for quality and variety. One of the Chamber Choir’s pieces, Eric Whitacre’s “Alleluia,” was requested by some seniors.
“They’ve been bugging me for semesters to do this piece,” Holleman said.
According to tradition, seniors in both college and chamber choir will be presented with a rose at the concert.
The concert, which is open to the public and does not require tickets, should be a fairly full house, according to Holleman.
Edelblut, who will be transferring to Berklee College of Music this fall, said Hillsdale students express a real enthusiasm for music.
“One of my favorite things about Hillsdale’s music department is the excitement that everybody has about music, about the idea of performing music,” he said. “And the real, true passion that everybody has for music regardless of their level of skill or competency.”