Students shine at annual Late Winter Choral Concert

Soloing Singers: Mary Stithem and Sienna Haynes, sopranos, ending their performance of “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Requiem.” Haynes and Stithem performed as soloists during both “Pie Jesu” and “Song of Days Now Gone” from Donald McCullough’s “Holocaust Cantata.”

Ryan Thompson

Washburn University Department of Music presented the Late Winter Choral Concert featuring the Washburn Singers and Washburn Choir March 13 in White Concert Hall.

Kevin Kellim, professor of music, directed the eclectic concert. Compositions performed ranged from ballads and popular big band jazz songs to requiems and operettas, but excerpts from “Holocaust Cantata” by Donald McCullough contained the stand-out performances of the evening.

“The ‘Holocaust Cantata’ as a whole is an amazing piece of music,” said Mary Stithem, senior vocal performance major and soloist, alongside Sienna Haynes.

“It has so much feeling and so much depth and rawness to it. Especially considering… it has actual accounts of people who were there periodically throughout the music. I think that piece as a whole is really moving and really touching to a lot of people. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed performing that solo for that piece.”

“Holocaust Cantata” is based on research of songs and letters by inmates in concentration camps. The work alternates between choral arrangements, accompanied by cello and piano, and readings of translated materials found in the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“I didn’t know anything like that really existed, but I thought it was a very neat idea to put those poems to song,” said Tim Smale, senior music education major and bass in the Washburn Choir. “I thought the product was really amazing, very emotional.”

The concert also featured two songs directed by student conductors. Smale, acted as student director for Salmo 150 by Ernani Aguiar. He also accompanied “Chichester Psalms, Movement III,” by Leonard Bernstein.

“I took [Kellim’s] advanced choral conducting class last year,” Smale said. “I like directing and doing things like that, so he gave me this opportunity. He talked to me over the summer to see if I wanted to direct and also accompany one of the pieces.”

“Salmo 150” translates into English as “Psalm 150,” with lyrics taken directly from the Bible. The piece is known for rapid articulation and an emphasis on rhythm.

“[Kellim] gave me a few options to chose from,” Smale said. “I liked that it was the most rhythmical and kind of driving.”

The evening began with the Washburn Singers performing “Long Time Ago,” a work from set 1 of Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs.” The Singers performed seven songs, ending on “In the Mood,” a number one jazz hit in 1940 arranged by Joe Garland, before being joined by the full Choir for the student directed songs, “O Clap Your Hands” and “Salmo 150,” and the “Holocaust Cantata.”

The Washburn Singers’ next performance will be Cabaret ‘17 at 7:30 p.m. April 23 in the Washburn Room of Memorial Union. Cabaret is an annual event featuring performances of show tune, pop songs and jazz standards.

The Washburn Choir will perform with the Topeka Symphony Orchestra at their Resurrection concert April 29 at White Concert Hall. Topeka Festival Singers will also be featured in the performance of Gustav Mahler’s most popular work, “Symphony No. 2,” also known as the “Resurrection Symphony.”