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Choir Concert Rouses Ovation

A stunning harmony of voices filled Gray Auditorium as the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers held their fall concert on November 12 and 13. The concert, conducted by Professor of Music Stephen Bolster, showcased a wide array of pieces including spirituals, songs of praise, and more recent pieces such as a choral arrangement of "Over the Rainbow". Bolster introduced each piece between groups, giving the background and history of the songs.

Images from the Concert Choir's Fall Concert.

The choir was accompanied by Ryan Shirar on piano and John Courter on organ, along with several guest instrumentalists. The first half of the concert contained songs extolling the Virgin Mary and various songs of praise from the renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic and twentieth-century periods. After the intermission, the Chamber Singers took the stage and performed several anthems and dirges, including two versions of "Come Away, Death", which derives from text by William Shakespeare.

The Chamber Singers were then rejoined by the rest of the choir to recognize the members who will be graduating at the end of this semester or the next. Bolster gave a small, personal speech about each student and their time under his tutelage, until many looked on the verge of tears. They then reformed ranks to sing two pieces by American composer Z. Randall Stroope, whom some of the choir members had met. Stroope's piece "Tournez, Tournez!" was a rousing, hectic arrangement about the "foolish circle of life", turning around and around and resting only to sleep. After two arrangements of well-known spirituals, "My Lord, What a Mornin'" and "Ain't Got Time To Die", the choir closed out the show with a plaintive piece which was familiar to many: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". A standing ovation drew them back for one more song, which was a benediction performed for the audience.

Stephen Bolster is a Professor of Music at Berea College and conducts the Concert Choir, the Chamber Singers, and the Faculty-Staff Choir. He has been at Berea since 1980 and teaches voice, vocal methods, conducting and music literature. Bolster holds degrees in music and choral music and is the recipient of many honors and awards.

The Berea College Music Department's upcoming concerts include the Faculty-Staff Choir performing November 20, A Celebration of Christmas Music on December 4, Women's Chorus and Recorder Ensemble on December 11, and Christmas Music on the Carillon on December 20. Go to the link for the Music Department below or call 985-3466 for more information.

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