Music ensembles perform festive repertoire at holiday concert

Members of the Geneseo community – students, residents and professors – crowded into Wadsworth Auditorium on Nov. 24 for the Geneseo Symphony Orchestra, Festival Chorus, Chamber Singers and Spectrum Women’s Ensemble performance. Adjunct faculty member in music Jim Tiller conducted the first part of the program, putting on Giuseppe Verdi’s “Overture to Nabucco” as well as Kirke Mechem’s “Seven Joys of Christmas.” Throughout the concert, there was a festive holiday spirit in the air alongside the performances, with the crowd sitting in the mounds of their shed outerwear, while the female members of the choir donned red gowns and the male members wore tuxedos.

Brass was implemental to the performance of the overture, often alternating between playing solemnly, harmonizing with the woodwinds and bombastic runs, heavy on the percussion, especially the tympani drums. The piece almost had the feel of Charles Dickens, with a slightly more theatrical flair, especially with the vibrancy of the brass section.

The Spectrum Women’s Choir joined the orchestra to perform “Seven Joys of Christmas,” containing seven movements, each with its own distinct flair. Much of the piece was light and airy, even whimsical, with a spirited oboe among other woodwinds.

After intermission, professor of music Gerard Floriano conducted Chamber Singers’ performance of Mozart’s “Requiem,” composed of eight movements. This piece was more solemn in tone, dramatic in feel, reminiscent of the time and place it came from: 18th-century Europe. The strings, along with the heavy vocal tones, created movement.

Junior Jane Coons has been in Chamber Singers for three semesters and was a soloist featured in the introitus and tuba miram and benedictus movements of “Requiem.”

The group’s hard work was apparent; it was clear that the singers just put on a concert in October. Around mid-October, the group began preparing for the Nov. 24 concert. Chamber Singers met three times a week for approximately four and a half hours in addition to soloist rehearsals outside of that time.

The orchestra performed alongside the choir, adding another element necessary to rehearse. Coons noted the difficulty of orchestrating several performance groups under one piece.

“We had two rehearsals with the orchestra and had to put all of the voices together. It makes it more difficult because it is more parts that have to be going at the same time. We had extra rehearsals with them [as well],” she said.

Festival Choir is a group that is composed of both students and community members.

Coons, a vocal performance major, enjoyed being a soloist, especially as there have been hired performers in the past to fill the position. This year, the Festival Chorus featured nine soloists, a majority of whom were students.