Concertgoers gathered at the Dr. Arturo-Rando Grillot Recital Hall at UNLV for the University Chorale concert featuring the Cornell University Glee Club on March 31.
Audience members occupied the grand venue, which features wooden acoustic panels along the wall. A lone grand piano took center stage, standing against the imposing backdrop of the Maurine Jackson Smith Memorial Organ. Members of the chorale flanked each side of the piano as they prepared to perform the set.
Conducted by Stephanie Council, assistant professor of Choral Music at UNLV, the concert began with a Quaker hymn titled “How Can I Keep From Singing,” followed by a shorter piece titled “Be Like the Bird,” by Abbie Betinis. The chorale’s shimmering vocals resonated through the hall with each piece, accompanied by flowing pianos.
The following pieces performed by the chorale focused on music and the magnificent power of song. “Der Abend, Op. 64 Nr. 2” by Johannes Brahms is a grand narrative about Cupid and chariots in the sky, which the chorale performed in German.
The slow and somber “Muusika” by Pärt Uusberg and the celebratory “Ilus Hääl” by Margrit Kits concluded the chorale’s set, as it sang the pieces in Estonian. Keeping in the theme of the power of music, both pieces showcased the chorale’s vocal prowess with sweeping lyrical runs and tight interplay between each octave, as well as the group’s multilingual fluidity.
Both pieces originated from the Balkans as well, with “Ilus Hääl” specifically celebrating Estonia’s centennial anniversary. The chorale’s cascading vocals, coupled with the lower octaves’ percussive tones, ended their set on an exultant note.
After a brief intermission, the Cornell University Glee Club took to the stage to perform nine pieces, sung in various languages like English, Spanish, German, Latin, Haitian Creole and French. The combination of slow, harmonious ballads and upbeat folk songs added a palpable depth to the club’s set, which was only supported by their energetic and focused vocal performances. The club was conducted by Joe Lerangis.
In between songs, members of The Hangovers, the a cappella subset of the Cornell club, emerged from the stands on stage to perform a soulful rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” The seamlessly layered and stripped-back interpretation of the R&B classic was a delightful performance that served as a brief respite from its other resplendent pieces.
The concert ended with a joint effort from both the glee club and chorale as they performed Rosephanye Powell’s “Non nobis Domine.” A moving conclusion to the concert, the piece was performed in Latin and combined the talents of both groups.
Alexander Reyes, a music education major, had this to say about his experiences performing in the concert, “It was lots of fun. I was really excited to be able to sing Brahms, as he’s one of my favorite composers. Learning the piece in German was fun, but a bit challenging. It was a really great experience that helped me grow as a musician.”
“It was great to hear so much tenor and bass representation. We don’t have [so much of] that here at the University Chorale, so it was great to hear. It was crazy to see that they performed over nine pieces that were all memorized. They did a great job overall,” stated Reyes when asked about the visiting Glee Club’s performance.
The University Chorale’s next event will be the Desert Rose Choral Festival on April 22 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Further information regarding chorale performances and other musical events can be found on the UNLV School of Music’s event page.