Three Groups Featured in April 22 Spring Music Concert
The Mercersburg Academy Chorale, Concert Band, and String Ensemble will take the stage in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre Friday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. for the Spring Music Concert. The show will include a variety of songs that the groups have prepared over the winter and beginning of spring terms, and the performance is open to the public. Masks are required, and all attendees must follow Mercersburg’s visitor policy.
The Chorale, under the direction of arts faculty members Bryan Morgan ’07 and James Brinson, will perform songs ranging from upbeat tempos to lullaby-esque tunes. For the first time in a year, the Chorale was able to prepare for the concert together in person over the winter term. Moreover, the concert will feature a mix of a cappella music and music with piano accompaniment.
The Chorale will perform the following: “Along the Western Railroad” by Matthew Emery; “Choose Something Like a Star” with music by Randall Thompson and lyrics derived from the Robert Frost poem; and “Sleep,” composed by Eric Whitacre with lyrics by Charles Anthony Silvestri. Additionally, the sopranos and altos will perform “The River Sleeps Beneath the Sky” with music by Mary Lynn Lightfoot (lyrics derived from the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem), and the tenors and basses will perform “The Wellerman,” a traditional New Zealand folk song arranged by Jacob Narverud.
Brinson emphasizes that this year was unique because the Chorale has more tenors and basses, which allowed for he and Morgan to “program a piece for them [the tenors and basses] to sing and another piece for sopranos and altos.” They scheduled specialized rehearsal times to work with each musical section more than in other years. Chorale member Bob Hollis ’24 notes, “It was very rewarding getting to work so closely with the other tenors and the basses, as well as getting to be under such careful guidance from Mr. Morgan and Mr. Brinson.”
The String Ensemble, directed by Michael Cameron, will be performing several thematically similar pieces: “Polaris” by composer Thomas Adès, “Meditation” from Thaïs, “Primal Strings” composed by Gary Fagan, Beethoven’s “Cavatina,” “Czardas” by Vittorio Monti, and “Of Glorious Plumage” by Richard Meyer. The ensemble will take the audience on a journey from up-tempo selections to calm and serene pieces that will both energize and mesmerize listeners. Cellist Crystal Yuen ’24 says, “Each piece is so different and nuanced. I’m sure there will be something for everyone to enjoy.”
“I believe that all of the young men and women I work with have two things in common: a great love for music and a desire to share that love with one another and with the audiences they perform for,” says Cameron. “As their conductor and teacher, I make it my duty to try to program music that my players will find satisfying to work on and perform. The music that we will perform spans three centuries: the 19th, 20th and 21st. Collectively, in my opinion, they run the gamut of human emotions: from brooding intensity to subtle humor to soaring, larger-than-life wonder. It has been a great musical journey for all of us this year, and I look forward to sharing the finished product with our community.”
The Concert Band, directed by Morgan, is sure to please with its selection of specially curated pieces: “Arabesque” by Samuel R. Hazo; “Winter Milky Way” by Yukiko Nishimura; “Coldplay Classics,” a mash-up of songs by the band Coldplay arranged by Michael Brown; and “Industria” by Alan Clark. Trombonist Chris Jetter ’22 notes, “It is always so much fun getting to be on stage with the rest of the band. I can’t wait to see what the audience thinks.”
As for the selection of music (for both Concert Band and Chorale), Morgan explains, “There isn't a specific theme for the concert, but we intentionally look for diverse pieces and composers, which is important for inclusivity and education. My favorite parts are during the process. We hit those magical moments when we know it’s starting to come together, and we all feel it at the same time.”
One important moment to look for during the concert is the collaboration of Chorale, String Ensemble, and Concert Band joining together to perform the Ukrainian National Anthem as a sign of solidarity with the Ukrainian people during this incredibly difficult time.
Upcoming events at the Burgin Center for the Arts include the Senior Art Show throughout the month of May and the Spring Dance Concert Saturday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. More details about upcoming arts programming can be found on the school’s events calendar.
For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen (email@example.com) in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.