Spring Concert by Allegheny Choirs to Celebrate “Works from Shakespeare”

April 11, 2016 — The Allegheny Choirs, under the direction of James D. Niblock, will perform a free concert at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 in Shafer Auditorium at Allegheny College. The performance will feature the college’s five choral ensembles as well as a finale of several pieces performed by the combined choirs.

Saturday’s program, “Works from Shakespeare,” will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of English poet and playwright William Shakespeare on April 23, 1616. Each of the choral ensembles will contribute to the central theme, presenting musical settings of Shakespeare texts. Though the works are all presented in a classical choral idiom, individual compositions are infused with style traits drawn from madrigals, romantic part-songs, doo-wop, jazz and bluegrass.

Several selections draw on ancient traditions and customs, such as William Byrd’s “Sacerdotes Domini,” written for England’s Chapel Royal; the Peruvian liturgical procession “Hanacpachap,” believed to be the earliest piece of music published in Latin America; and the Galilean song “El Yivneh Hagalil” in an arrangement for male chorus. Other works lean toward the contemporary, such as “All in green went my love riding,” which sets the poetry of e.e. cummings; the “Songs and Sonnets” of Canadian jazz pianist George Shearing; and the gospel spiritual “City Called Heaven.”

Works throughout the concert will feature student soloists Troy Dinga, Lauren Dominique, Louis Fehér-Peiker, Julia Harkin, Morgan Hazzard, Chelsea Hubert, Lauren Ottaviani and Ben Thomas. Mozart’s “Regina Coeli in C” deploys a solo quartet in close-knit interactions with the larger choir. Other celebrated composers are featured as well, including Aaron Copland, J. S. Bach, William Dawson, Amy Beach and even the farcical P.D.Q. Bach.

Collaborating with the choirs are pianists Kevin Dill, music director at First Presbyterian Church, and Ward Jamison, professor emeritus of music at Allegheny College. The two will collaborate for the four-hands accompaniment in P.D.Q. Bach’s “It was a Lover and His Lass.” Joining Dill for selections from “Songs and Sonnets” will be John Christie-Searles, assistant professor of political science at Allegheny College, on double bass.

Admission is free and open to the public. Audience members are encouraged to use the balcony as well as the main floor of the auditorium.