Spectrum Women’s Ensemble, Chamber Singers expertly perform holiday classics

Geneseo’s department of music brought some holiday spirit to the campus when they showcased Spectrum Women’s Ensemble and Geneseo Chamber Singers on Sunday Dec. 6 in Doty Recital Hall. Spectrum—directed by adjunct lecturer in music Amy Cochrane and featuring Wan-Lin Chuang on piano and bass—opened the performance with an anonymously-written 15th century English carol entitled “Nowel Syng We Bothe Al and Som.” This song featured freshmen Hannah Griffin and Jenna Bunce, sophomores Christine Schultz and Caroline House, juniors Victoria Stevens and Courtney King and seniors Kaitlyn DiResta and Samantha Clowes.

Next, the ensemble performed Mary Elizabeth Caldwell’s “Shine Lovely Christmas Star” and “Silent Night.” Caldwell was employed by the Pasadena Junior League to write three operas for children to be presented by the Pasadena Symphony. The songs the ensemble performed were from the second of these operas: “A Gift of Song,” which tells the story of Franz Gruber’s composing of “Silent Night.”

The ensemble closed their performance with “What You Gonna Call Your Pretty Little Baby?” This song featured freshmen Mackenzie Hintze and Melissa Frank and sophomore Jami Goldson and Bunce as soloists accompanied by Chuang on bass and a few members of the Genesee Valley Children’s Chorus.

Geneseo Chamber Singers took the stage next, directed by music department chair Gerard Floriano and featuring piano accompanist and vocal coach Linda Boianova on piano. They opened with “Gloria ad modum tubae” by Franco-Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay. Dufay was a composer during the early Renaissance who was regarded by his contemporaries as the leading composer in Europe in the mid-15th century.

The second song the Chamber Singers performed was Tomás Luis de Victoria’s “Vere Languores.” Victoria was the most famous composer in 16th century Spain and is considered one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation.

The third piece was “Cantata No. 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of nine movements and three solos. The second movement was a tenor recitativo, performed by junior Jordan Bachmann, the fourth movement was a basso recitativo performed by junior Noah Chichester and the seventh movement was an alto recitativo performed by sophomore Madison Kemler. All of the soloists performed exceptionally with their difficult parts.

Next, Chamber Singers performed one of Gabriel Fauré’s best-known works, “Pavane Op. 50.” Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers.

In a change of pace, the group performed “If I Got My Ticket Can I Ride?” arranged by Robert Shaw and featuring junior Ben Reiner as soloist. They ended with Kirby Shaw’s arrangements of “Silver Bells” and “Let it Snow.”

Both the Spectrum Women’s Ensemble and Geneseo Chamber Singers performed amazing renditions of holiday songs from varying time periods with both grace and talent. It was easy to hear the immense control that each performer had over their voice as they reached certain notes or changed from one pitch to another. Each singer displayed immense aptitude as vocalists and the performance was a wonderful showcase of Geneseo’s vocal talent.