Grace Jordan, Campus Carrier arts & living editor
On Saturday, multiple Berry choirs will be performing their final concert for the semester. The theme of the performance is I am Glad for the Gift of Song, a theme chosen by Paul Neal, Director of Choral Activities.
“The theme is I am Glad for the Gift of Song,” Neal said. “So, we have chosen all music that talks about how grateful we are that we have our gift of singing, especially during this last year of the pandemic.”
The theme was selected because of the grueling year many have experienced.
“It’s been a challenging year for all the arts,” Neal said. “While we have been able to perform the last year, some of the best ways to get through the chaos and the tragedies of the year have been to sing. That’s what this music is really about, to show to our audiences how grateful we are to them to be listening to us even through YouTube and different Facebook channels and things.”
The performance will showcase a multitude of different songs that all hail from different backgrounds and cultures, including sea shanties and South American style music.
“We have a variety of different things,” Neal said. “The Women’s choir has a violist that is coming in to play for them. It’s called the ‘Peace of Wild Things.’ Men’s choir is doing a variety of things. They are doing a sea shanty which has been very popular on TikTok so we decided to do that. Then the Berry Singers will do the I am Glad song then also they’re doing a piece by 20th century composer called ‘Ubi Caritas’ which is a Latin text of ‘when we are combined together there is a presence of God.’”
The concert will not only include the different choirs voices, but will be accompanied by instruments.
“We have a French horn that will be playing with us for a little bit,” Neal said. “And the men will be singing ‘Song of the Water’ and we’re doing a guitar and Conga drums and it’s got a more South American flavor for that one. It will be a good variety of music. Berry Singers are completely unaccompanied, it’s just the choir, no instruments for that group.”
The concert will not be performed for an audience, but the different choirs will sit in the hall. This will be the first time this academic school year that the choirs will have a chance to hear each other sing live.
“They’ve not sung for each other all year,” Neal said. “Now that things are a little bit better, while we’re still socially distanced and wearing masks and all the things we need to do we’re going to have each choir separated in the hall so they can still be in the hall and hear each choir as they sing which will be really nice because they have not heard each other all year.”
While the choirs are looking forward to the concert, they are also looking to the future of stage music and are hopeful for the fall semester.
“We’re just excited to finish out the year and looking forward to next year where hopefully masks are gone and we will be able to sing in our normal way,” Neal said. “I think this song will be even more sweet next year because we won’t have to worry about all the things.”
The song in question is a piece that choirs at Berry have sung over the years.
“We are finishing the entire program with the Lutkin ‘Lord Bless You and Keep You,’ which is a tradition of our choirs here,” Neal said. “It was the last piece we sang last year before we were supposed to sing at the national cathedral when the whole trip got cancelled because of COVID. So, we felt it was appropriate for us to finish this year with the same piece.”
The program will be an hour long, consisting of each choir singing four to five songs each. The recital will be posted on Berry’s Choir YouTube channel on Apr. 24.