Concert allows community to join staff, students in song

Local families and Geneseo students gathered at the Central Presbyterian Church to listen to a collection of Brahms and P.D.Q. Bach sung by Geneseo’s Festival Singers on March 14. 

Geneseo’s Festival Singers, directed by professor of music and chair of the music department Gerard Floriano, came together to sing multiple German songs by Johannes Brahms called the “Liebeslieder Walzer” and a P.D.Q. Bach song from “Liebeslieder Polkas.” 

The German composer Brahms, also a pianist, originally wrote the pieces as a piano duet with voices layered. The Festival Singers, however, performed it as a solo quartet with piano accompaniment. 

“The Liebeslieder Polkas” were created by a musical satirist Peter Schickele under the pseudonym P.D.Q. Bach. The chosen P.D.Q. Bach piece proved interesting as it included a fifth piano hand and gave an entertaining twist to a night of classical music. 

Floriano hoped the event would unite Geneseo as a whole.

“This choir involves students, community and staff. It’s a unique way the town and students can come together in a meaningful way,” Floriano said. “This is a good set of pieces for a chorus of this size and it also gave us an opportunity to do solos.”

Each Brahms song delighted the audience as the German lyrics changed from somber to hopeful in various combinations of volume and tone. 

The audience received the translations of each song along with the German version; the songs’ themes ranged from love and desire to nature. Alto Festival Choir member freshman Kristen LaDue found the concert challenging and thrilling.

“It is always fun to learn to sing in German; it’s a difficult language to sing in,” LaDue said. “I also got to be in a quartet which was really fun.” 

The chorus had a powerful and diverse sound as each of the singers brought their unique voices to the choir. 

During the three solo quartets, the singers were able to show their individual talents in front of their community and families. 

The audience even got the opportunity to laugh at the more humorous P.D.Q. Bach piece that was chosen. Adjunct professors of music Kurt Galvan and Kevin Nitsch joined talents as they humorously were able to play the song with five hands on the piano. 

“I hope the audience was able to laugh at the comedy we added in with the music,” LaDue said. 

The singers’ elated moods were palpable. Everyone was smiling, and all audience members encouraged the performance.

“The performance and the practices leading up to the performance, when we know the music and can have fun with it, [are really great],” Floriano said.

The classical music provided a great opportunity for students and the community to get together and enjoy the time away from life’s stresses. 

“Hopefully it was a rest for the students from midterms, exams and papers, and for community members to come to this beautiful church,” Floriano said.