From the depths of Festival Concert Hall, three North Dakota State choirs blasted away the winter blues with songs ranging from 17th century Germany to modern classics and Spanish serenades.
First was the NDSU women’s choir, Cantemus. Its program began with “Erhöre mich,” a plea for God’s comfort by German composer Henrich Schütz. Accompanied by Annett Richter on the lute, the beautiful melody of the women’s voices and the stringed instrument created a gorgeous ensemble.
Next, Cantemus sang an old shaker song “Come Pretty Love.” While it was introduced as a gentle coming-home song, “Come Pretty Love” reminded me more of a rowdy summer day than my mother’s warm embrace. The vocals of the singers were accompanied by stomping and clapping toward the end.
The classic church ballad “How Can I Keep from Singing” was directed by NDSU graduate student Emily Black. The song uniquely combined the piano and the students’ vocals to create a beautiful combination. Finally, the song finished with a single singer, giving it a poignant ending.
Cantemus closed with “Closer to Fine,” an ’80s classic originally performed by Emily Saliers. This finished their set with a modern and joyful song.
University Chamber Singers
After Cantemus, the University Chamber Singers took the stage. This mixed, audition-only group started with “Alleluia” by Paul Basler. Accompanying the singers were Gwen Hoburg on the French horn, student Dejon Allen playing the congas and director Sigurd Johnson on tambourine. This added some variety to the repeating lyrics.
“Almighty and Everlasting God” was its next piece. Short and sweet, its riveting vocals were captivating.
Following this song was “The Peace of Wild Things.” Composed by a Minnesotan, the University Chamber Singers were able to collaborate with the original creator of the piece to get his influence on their version of the song. This earthy anthem was given new life by the choir and was a beautiful addition to their set.
The University Chamber Singers finished with the American folk song “Sourwood Mountain,” arranged by the late Edwin Fissinger, an NDSU faculty member. This light, finishing piece broke the calm mood of the previous three songs and revitalized the auditorium with excitement.
Finally, the Statesmen of NDSU took the stage, finishing the concert.
Its first song was “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal,” a traditional beginning to the set.
Next, they performed “La Martiniana” arranged from three Mexican folk songs by David Conte. Although the program contained an English translation, the Statesmen sang the song in Spanish. Accompanying the singers was Jerry Rosin on the guitar with Kaitlin Dick and Maiya Bengtson on violin. The light music combined with the somber lyrics was a perfect ode to the traditional Spanish ballad.
Next, the men sang “That Lonesome Road,” an emotional and subdued piece, followed by “He Never Failed Me Yet.” The piece was uplifting and joyous, and it was obvious the men were very energetic as they performed the piece. The call-and-response style of the song invigorated the singers and the audience.
The Statesmen ended the concert with the mellow song, “Shenandoah.” Based on Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the singers sang about the beauty of nature with an accompanying slideshow of pictures and video of the park itself. It was a lovely end to an entirely enjoyable concert.
The next choral concert is Sunday at Peace Lutheran Church. The NDSU Concert Choir and the Madrigal Singers will be performing. Admission is free for NDSU students with a valid ID.