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Saint Mary’s to host fall choral concert with wide variety of song selections

| Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Saint Mary’s Department of Music will present its annual choral concert featuring performances from the Collegiate Choir, Women’s Choir and Bellacapella on Wednesday.

The concert is in partnership with the 35th annual High School Treble Choir Festival taking place at the College on Thursday and Friday. American composer Andrea Ramsey will serve as a guest conductor for the concert, along with Nancy Menk of the Saint Mary’s music department. Ramsey will also be a commentator.

Menk composed notes on the programs explaining more about Ramsey’s work and the way she composes her pieces, focusing on ‘A Hive of Frightened Bees’ and ‘The Dark is Shattered.’

“The text for ‘A Hive of Frightened Bees’ was adapted from the poem by Taylor Huntley printed in [the] program,” Menk said in her notes. “Her choir director shared the poem on social media, where Andrea Ramsey saw it and reached out about the possibility of setting an adaptation of it.”

The poem centers around the fear and anxiety most high school students feel in the wake of school shootings.

“The music is shaped with the hope of honoring Taylor’s words while also reshaping them slightly — adding breathing and heartbeats to elicit those feelings of panic, fear and anxiety that so many American students live with on a daily basis in our era of recurring school shootings,” Menk said.

Ramsey’s other work, “The Dark is Shattered,” is more personal to Saint Mary’s, as it was commissioned by the College for the choir festival.

“The text is a Christmas poem by Sr. Madeleva [Wolff], C.S.C., a prominent figure in our College’s history,” Menk said.

The choir has been preparing for the concert since the first week of school, junior and collegiate choir member Dora Riddick said.

“We prepare all semester for the concert, and then we have the concert, and then we start rehearsals for lessons and carols,” Riddick said.

The collegiate choir will perform a wide variety of songs, including a British lullaby, “Old Time Religion,” “Ave Maria” and a Latin piece called “Vidi Aquam” as the closing song.

After the collegiate choir’s performance, the women’s choir and Bellacapella will perform. The women’s choir will perform songs such as ‘Psallite,’ ‘Acclamatio,’ ‘Ubi Caritas’ and Ramsey’s ‘A Hive of Frightened Bees’ and ‘The Dark is Shattered,’ along with many others.

The performance will close with all three choirs coming together to perform ‘The Bells of Saint Mary’s.’

“[The concert is] a good way for people to come together,” Riddick said. “You can invite friends, friends of friends and it’s just a good reason for people to come together. You don’t always have time to [be together], because we get caught up in life.”

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