A Winter’s Hope a multi-cultural extravaganza
By KATHRYN STUTZ
Last weekend’s Adelphian and Voci d’Amici masterpiece, A Winter’s Hope, showed off the vocal talents of the Puget Sound students involved, and served as a sort of Christian-flavored multi-faith holiday worship service for the greater Puget Sound community.
The Saturday night performance, with the backdrop of Kilworth chapel’s gold-gilt pipe organ and the tall rain-streaked windows showing the lamp-lit grounds outside, felt heavily Victorian—a glimpse into the way songs could hold a community together in a very different time.
The candlelit chandeliers and glowing Christmas tree threw light onto the black-suited and black-draped choir in their rows, while the audience and the back of the chapel were shrouded in shadow.
The beginning processional, a fascinating mix of Finnish and Muskogee Indian music styles called “Personet Hodie/Helelujan,” started in these shadowy corners, until the sound slowly moved forward, following the performers, and engulfed the audience.
With basses and tenors chanting ‘Helelujan’ on the left, and the high lyrical song of the altos and sopranos on the right, this piece started the concert off on a formal note, which clearly showed off their sheer vocal prowess.
Next came “O Come All Ye Faithful,” an audience-invited-to-join number in which the strong voices of the choir and their musical accompaniment thankfully drowned out any inconsistencies from the pews.
Scattered throughout the rest of the concert were a few other sing-along numbers, including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Joy to the World”—the last one a beautiful piece where the full voice of the Adelphians followed a measured half-step behind the audience in perfect echoes.
Though the audience participation songs were more obviously from the canon of well known Christmas carols, the conductor, Dr. Steven Zopfi, consistently turned around to face the audience each time to ensure everyone was on tempo.
By the time the performance came to the classic “Silent Night,” which, admittedly, did have the potential to bring out a bit of nostalgia for childhood Christmas services, the euphonic Victorian atmosphere of the performance was cemented. The complete choir held small candles as the overhead lights dropped into darkness and all voices rose in song.
Voci d’Amici, the elite student-led a capella choir, brought the middle of the concert through a variety of musical styles.
After several pieces that followed the liturgical tone of the early Adelphian numbers, Voci’s “El Desembre” was a lively breath of fresh air, with delicate Spanish rolling off the choir’s tongues.
The Voci processional following the intermission was “Make We Joy,” a mixed piece in English and Latin, with a stately air and excellently crisp enunciation.
This led into “The Gift,” one of those choral works in which the theme is instantly familiar, but the melodic flourishes add a touch of the unexpected.
With the return of the Adelphians came several more pieces, including Whitney Reveyrand’s exquisite flute-work in “Calm On the Listening Ear of Night,” which added a touch of mysticism and fantasy to an otherwise relatively average song, and “Gate, Gate,” an Indian piece which showed off Zopfi’s trademark use of rhythm clapping.
Through the early parts of A Winter’s Hope, the contrast between the first poetically secular readings by Reverend Dave Wright, and the carols themselves, which were just as poetic but undeniably religious, could at times seem jarring.
However, as the evening progressed, the cohesiveness between the different components of the performance became stronger, thanks to several moving readings on love, justice and hope.
The best of these was “A Renaissance of Compassion,” by Tavis Smiley and Cornell West. It was prefaced by a tribute to the recently deceased Nelson Mandela, and included several resonating lines such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
Ultimately, A Winter’s Hope ended on an emboldened and upbeat note, with the lofty piece, “Hope for Resolution,” as the lights went up and the choir slowly surrounded the audience in their pews with joyous song.