This week, I got to participate in a recording session with my choir, the University of Illinois Chamber Singers! We have done a few recording sessions, and we performed informally outside last semester, but this more formal affair was a much-needed return to the performing on which our group thrives.
We treated the session more like a live concert that was being recorded, and this really captured the spontaneity of performance which the group always achieves during non-pandemic times. This recording will be shared with Carle Hospital patients, and this really motivated us to create some meaningful and emotive music. From the beginning of the session, Dr. Megill emphasized that his goal was to capture the spirit of performance and expressive music-making. We were spaced out across the Foellinger Great Hall stage, and the sound we produced, even when masked, was wonderful to hear after such a long hiatus from performing in the hall.
We began the session with Pierre Villette’s “Hymn à la Vierge,” a passionate French selection that has been my favorite from this semester’s program. I loved imbuing the swelling lines with the passion and excitement of performance. Another highlight was Adolphus Hailstork’s “Nocturne,” a sensual piece with aleatoric elements. We were set up in pods of 3-5 singers for this selection because we needed to watch each other for our entrances during the drone-like section of the piece. This piece definitely cast a spell over the hall, and the difficulties of rehearsing it outdoors during the fall disappeared. I really enjoyed our recording of the “Kyrie” from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor, as I had the privilege of singing the bass solo in the quartet section! This was conducted by Dr. Megill’s assistant, Andy Bruhn, a fine conductor who has been an inspiration to work with. He talked about how this was a bucket list piece for him to conduct and that it felt very gratifying. I also felt very gratified to be singing such a beautiful solo for one of my final musical events with Chamber Singers. We got an excellent recording of our program, and I think we all seized this unique opportunity to perform with a greater sense of normalcy. I am so grateful to have had opportunities to sing with this wonderful group during my senior year, and to have had so many great experiences with Foellinger Great Hall!