As the weather warms up, John Brown University’s Cathedral Choir prepares to in the new season on with their annual Spring Concert April 1. The choir has been preparing 15 songs in Latin, German and English since the beginning of the semester.
“Mr. Smith lost no time in introducing the music to us. In fact, he had even given us a couple of the pieces last semester,” Amanda Neely, alto, said of the University Choir director. “Between sectionals and class meetings, we have been rehearsing no fewer than five times per week.”
The Cathedral choir is recognized for their excellence in performance. Participating students expressed the amount of work that they put into practicing.
“The hardest thing about being in this choir is the sheer amount of time that it takes to perfect our craft,” Jocie Morgan, second alto, said. “Memorizing music takes time and dedication, and some of our pieces this year are particularly challenging.”
Even though the choir spends a considerable amount of time practicing as a group, each member spends time on their own to improve their abilities.
“On average, I spend an additional two hours,” outside of the five weekly rehearsals, Neely said.
Noah Franz, second tenor, listed some of the songs that will be played, including Motet 159: “Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich den,” “Agnus Dei,” “Entreat me not to leave you,” “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “Peace Like a River” and “Lullay My Liking” are some of the songs they will be performing next month.
The pieces selected for this year are challenging not only because four out of 15 are in foreign languages, Latin and German, but also because of the techniques needed to perform them well.
Morgan said that the hardest piece is “Entreat Me Not to Leave.”
“The song is a hauntingly beautiful piece, but its repetition and waves of crescendos and decrescendos have been hard to keep track of, and make it hard to memorize perfectly,” Morgan said. “However, we continue to get better with each practice and performance, and are enraptured by its message and melody.”
Franz said that the choir’s favorite piece is this difficult piece. He explained that the meaning of the piece as well as the dissonance of the chords makes this piece beautiful.
“It tells the story of Ruth leaving her pagan culture and following Naomi into a foreign Hebrew culture,” Franz said. “Mr. Smith has a personal connection to this piece as well because his eldest son, who has lived in China for several years, is returning to the United States with a Chinese wife, who has recently turned to Christ.”
The Spring Concert that will take place on April 1 in the Berry Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.