On Saturday, Nov. 20, the Shippensburg University Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers hosted their first full concert since 2019 at The Shippensburg First Church of God.
The concert started off with the introduction of Elizabeth Lins Shoenfelt, the choir director, and Mrs. Rochelle Kniss and Mrs. Leslie Shuman, the accompanying pianists, followed shortly by the procession of the concert choir from the back of the church. Lining the pews, they started with “Borgoroditse Devo” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, sang in acapella, which translates into an ‘Ave Maria’ and is considered the composer’s favorite piece, according to Shoenfelt. In comparison to last semester’s mid-COVID pandemic concert, the acoustics of the church elevated all the voices of the choir, highlighting their melodies and flow as the sounds bounced around the room.
When they finished, the choir finished their procession to the main stage, moving swiftly into a bold rendition of “Down to the River to Pray.” Jasmyn Williams, a senior soloist, had a powerful voice that rung loud and strong during her moments in the spotlight, pairing wonderfully with the softer notes the rest of the chorus struck in accompaniment.
After a few more words from the director, the chorus and pianist prepared themselves for their headlining song of the night “Jubilant Song” by Norman Dello Joio. The whole show had a theme of meditation and joy, and this song strung both concepts together with heavy involvement of the piano. The chorus increased their pace and volume as soloist Caitlin Sweeney, a sophomore, hit crystal clear soprano notes, bringing home the theme of joy.
The next three songs were sung only by the Madrigal Singers, an additional part of the Shippensburg Concert Choir. They rang in the Christmas spirit by starting with “A Virgin Unspotted (Judea)” that had brilliant moments of staccato and filled the room with a nostalgic holiday atmosphere. The Madrigals then moved into “Glow” by Eric Whitacre, a softer, reflective piece that elicited a beautiful picture of fresh fallen snow and drew in the theme of meditation. Rounding out their time, they finished with “Underneath the Stars” carrying beautiful crescendos that filled the entire church. Emily Palmerton, a sophomore, gave the crowd goosebumps during her solo, and it felt as though she was the only person present as she delivered her notes before being reaccompanied by the rest of the Madrigals.
The rest of the concert choir rejoined on stage for the last three songs, “There Will Be Rest” by Frank Ticheli, “Northern Lights” by Ola Gjeilo and “Gaudete!” The last song also featured a funky addition with the Shippensburg University Marching Band’s drumline. The combination of classical voices and assorted percussion brought an entirely new aura into the room and lingered as the concert ended and the chorus members left.
If you are interested in seeing either the SU Concert Choir or Madrigal Singers, they will have another concert at the end of the Spring 2022 semester. A recording of this concert is also available through the Shippensburg University Concert Choir and Alumni Facebook page. Additionally, the Madrigal Singers are hosting their annual Christmas Dinners on Dec. 3 and 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Old Main Chapel. Tickets must be purchased by Monday, Nov. 29, and you can email Dr. Shoenfelt for reservations at EJShoenfelt@ship.eduEJShoenfelt@ship.edu.
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