Allegheny Choirs to Perform Winter Concert

The Allegheny Choirs, under the direction of James D. Niblock, will perform a free concert at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in Shafer Auditorium. The Allegheny College Chorus, Chamber Choir, Women’s Ensemble, Men’s Ensemble, and College Choir will each perform several works, and the groups will collaborate to close the performance as a choir of 120 voices. The concert is free and open to the public.

The concert’s repertoire covers traditions and ideas from 13 countries – including five pieces with seasonal themes associated with winter, Christmas, and Hanukkah. Niblock says he aims to present music as a “cultural meeting place,” bringing together histories and stories from across the globe. Listeners will hear nine languages incorporated, including Ladino, Slovenian, Hebrew, and Mandarin. 

The Allegheny Choirs have been a central presence on campus for 86 years, with many of the pieces from past programs resurfacing over the years. Several pieces, such as “O Magnum Mysterium” by Tomas Luis de Victoria, and “Sledge Bells” by Hugh Roberton have been sung throughout the choir’s history.

The Dec. 3 concert will open with one of Bach’s most famous chorales, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Cantata 147: “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life). The Chamber Choir will present selections from the repertoire they are preparing for a spring tour to New Zealand.

“Dixit Dominus,” by Baldassare Galuppi was composed for the famous choir of orphaned and abandoned young women living in the Venetian Ospedale during the Baroque period. The second movement of Galuppi’s work will be performed here.  The College Men’s Ensemble will sing “Blow Ye the Trumpet” from Kirke Mechem’s opera John Brown about the American abolitionist.  “Zigeunerleben” by Robert Schumann, will be sung by the College Choir, the text of which was written by Emanuel Geibel.

Collaborating with the choirs are pianists Kevin Dill, music director at First Presbyterian Church, and Allegheny Professor Emeritus of Music Ward Jamison. Audience members are encouraged to use the balcony as well as the main floor of the auditorium.