Dressed elegantly in black while clutching binders, singers from the Santa Clara Chorale showed the rich versatility of their voices while performing a diverse repertoire-lyrics in Latin, musical jokes and African-American spirituals – at the Central Park Library on June 29.
“The theme of this year’s summer reading program is Read to the Rhythm and so we’ve been having a number of programs that are music related,” says librarian Justin Wasterlain. “Tonight’s program with Santa Clara Chorale goes toward the classical side of music. Classical music is probably one of the most fundamental forms of music. It’s extremely complex and beautiful and it can be an overwhelming and soul-enlightening feeling when you listen to classical music, especially in the choir form. The human voice singing together is an amazing thing.”
“We’re doing a selection from the ‘Requiem,’ composed by Gabriel FaurÃ© and one song from Mozart’s ‘Solemn Vespers,'” says Scot Hanna-Weir, artistic director of Santa Clara Chorale and director of choral activities at Santa Clara University.
According to Weir, the ‘Requiem’ movement incorporates text from a Latin burial service and is intended to comfort and reassure. The movement in Mozart’s ‘Solemn Vespers’ is a fugue, a piece where multiple vocalists act independently within a melody so they can bounce lyrics back and forth between each other. This commanding tune is known for sounding forceful and perhaps a bit scary.
The choir also performed six short miniature pieces based on Ogden Nash’s poetry. The music, composed by Eric Whitacre, depicts what Hanna-Weir refers to as “musical jokes.”
“For instance, one piece is called ‘The Canary,’ and the first line of that poem is: ‘The song of canaries never varies,'” he says. “Whitacre keeps on having the sopranos singing that line over and over again without changing it all. That’s funny because it’s showing what the text means in a musical way.”
The choir also sang a couple of African-American spirituals: “Hold On” by Jester Hairston and “We Shall Walk Through the Valley” by Undine Smith Moore. Hanna-Weir describes the spirituals as being born from intense struggle but filled with tremendous hope.
Singers interested in joining the Santa Clara Chorale should visit a rehearsal, held on Monday nights between September and June at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Santa Clara. An audition is also required. Visit www.scc.org for more information.