Clark Choirs Perform Beauty and Hope in Times of Distress

“Closest thing I had to a religious experience” claims excited first year.

Mary Kelley, Scarlet Staff

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Friday, November 15, the doors to the church on Main Street opened at 7:00 pm, welcoming a bustling crowd of students, parents, and alumni, out of the cold dark night. Inside the church, sitting in pews were not patrons but rather the audience of the show put on by the Clark University Choirs, specifically Chamber Chorus and Concert Choir.
The choirs are made up of nearly 100 undergraduate students and their performance included works from Claude Debussey, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Anton Bruckner , and Franz Joseph Hayden (1732-1809). For those not majoring in music, the set was predominantly old school Latin hymns, with a Spanish section to further confuse the audience. If you went to organized religious events in your childhood, then you would have thoroughly enjoyed the angelic group.
The initial locale of the performance put plenty of students on edge, especially when going through the translated lyrics, kindly provided by the department. The lyrics were heavy, to put it lightly, reminiscent of the band Evanescence. Such gems include, “Like the bow of a viol, the scream has made vibrate the long strings of the wind.” This creates a beautiful sound in the original Spanish, but is unsettling in English.
Both choirs were exceptional, but I must give deference to the Chamber Chorus. The music chosen perfectly highlighted the various ranges of those in the chorus, giving several students opportunities to have a solo to highlight the ability of our peers. The soloists included soprano Jay Verchin, alto Shea Kushnir, tenor Benjamin Desjarlais, bass Jeremy Francoeur, mezzo-soprano Rachel Abrams, bass Graham Peligra,  and soprano Alison Lamb. The chorus’ songs were haunting than, fitting the ambience of the cold November night. 

The Chamber Chorus requires an audition, which makes their group significantly smaller than the Concert Choir. Of course, that adds to the unity of the voices and the amount of material able to be practiced in any given session.
Both groups were beautifully directed by Cailin Marcel Manson, the brand-new music director, and conductor and Yelena Beriyeva, the accompanist. There were also four hired soloists, professionals from the area and other colleges: Iris Fairfax, a soprano, and Alumna of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts; Rachel Abrams, a mezzo-soprano and graduate of San Jose State University and the University of Northern Colorado; Thomas Greg, tenor and a current professor of voice at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee; and Nicholas Tocci, baritone and graduate of New England Conservatory. This was Professor Manson’s first concert with Clark students
Overall, the show was a 10/10, “would go again,” sort of deal. This is the trend of most performances at Clark. Most nights there is something much more fun than studying to do with a couple of good pals and most of the time, when you attend these events you are making the organizers, performers, and your pals’ night!

Link to a recording of the concert, disclaimer– we don’t own this music


List of Songs from the Choir Concert: 

Trois Chansons, L. 99

I)Dieu! Qui la fait bon regarder

II)Quand j’ai ouy le tabourin

III)Yver, vous n’estes qu’un villain

Suite de Lorca

I)Canción de jinete

II)El grito

III)La luna asoma



Ecce sacerdos magnus, WAB 13


Missa in angustiis, Hob XXII