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Community Choir Sings Cordial Compositions

The Berea College Community Choir, conducted by Stephen Bolster, performed their fall concert on Sunday, November 23. The choir is composed of thirty mixed voices of Berea College faculty and staff. Dr. Stephen Bolster is a professor of music and the conductor of the Berea College Concert Choir. He founded the Community Choir five years ago to instill a sense of community among faculty and as an opportunity for the faculty to come together to create beautiful choral music.

The Choir filled Gray Auditorium with the beautiful sounds of hymns, folk songs, and sacred music. Applause filled the room as Dr. Bolster made his way to the front of the stage. The concert began with Cantate Domino, a sacred piece composed by Hans Leo Hassler. The text of the piece was from Psalm 95:1-3. Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the next two songs, “Sine nomine” and “O How Amiable.” The choir sang these songs as John Courter accompanied on the organ in honor of the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death.

The next four pieces were sacred pieces¬¬ sung by the women of the choir. Joanna Malcolm and Alice Hooker sang solos in “Kyrie eleison” and “Benedictus.” Mr. Courter also accompanied these songs on the organ. The women ended the third part of the concert with Agnus Dei, a song about the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world. The men of the choir rejoined the women to sing the last four parts of the concert. The last songs were folk songs from around the world, including Irish folk song “Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier” with Beki Ogburn as soloist.

The choir was not complete without musicians to accompany the angelic voices. John Courter, organist extraordinaire, accompanied the choir on multiple pieces. Harriet Bromley, a member of the Berea College faculty, accompanied the choir on a few of the pieces as well. In the fourth part of the concert, students Jessica French and Gaelyn Rotty accompanied the choir with flute and clarinet. The piece which they accompanied was titled “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” was a folk song composed by Mack Wilberg, an active composer and the chief arranger for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah University, and Utah State University.

The choir, and all the musicians involved in the concert exhibited beautiful talent. The glorious strains of the music continued to play in the ears of the listener long after the concert was over.

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