For the Beauty of the Earth: The McDaniel College Choir in Concert

College Choir in concert. Photo by Emma Carter.College Choir in concert. Photo by Emma Carter.

On Sunday night, April 24, Big Baker Chapel was filled with the voices of the McDaniel College Choir. The ensemble celebrated the beauty in nature, and in unity, with their program For the Beauty of the Earth. Under the direction of Dr. Margaret Boudreaux, the choir began the night with a procession into the chapel – and flowing right into their theme of unity and togetherness, McDaniel’s singers taught the melody of the piece they would soon start with, Gwaza Universe, so the audience could sing along.

After Gwaza Universe, the choir continued with their earthly theme and sang two airy, tranquil works: For the Beauty of the Earth and Earth Song. Senior Clarissa Balint conducted Earth Song, for which she received enduring applause. Throughout, the choir was a clear, fluid, congregation of voices.

Madrigal singers. Photo by Emma Carter.

Madrigal singers. Photo by Emma Carter.

The choir’s theme carried on: several later pieces were from various cultures and featured lyrics in different languages. The McDaniel Choir showcased three short choral works by Michael Praetorius – two in Latin and one in Yiddish. Rozhinkes mit Mandeln, a Jewish lullaby, was also sung in Yiddish. The traditional Syrian-Iraqi song and final foreign language piece of the night, Fog Elna Khel, was sung in Arabic and accompanied by the beating of a hand drum.

Several other pieces performed on Sunday evening also had instrumental accompaniment from violin, cello, bass, and guitar. The bittersweet melody of one piece, Ola Gjeilo’s The Lake Isle, was complimented by a humble, warm violin solo performed by Sisanda Marolen.

Later in the evening, the audience was introduced to the McDaniel College Madrigal Singers: this small ensemble performed in their Renaissance style, fitting into the night’s theme with their three pieces named after flowers – the joyful Though Amaryllis Dance in Green, melancholy Adieu Sweet Amaryllis, and the playful When Daffodils Begin to Peer.

College choir and Gospel choir join together. Photo by Emma Carter.

College choir and Gospel choir join together. Photo by Emma Carter.

One of the last pieces the choir performed was entirely new: We are One had its debut on Sunday night. We are One is an original piece composed by Shelley Ensor in the wake of the Charleston church shooting. Dr. Boudreaux spoke of the importance of raising our voices in song and in beauty in such grave times, and this song does just that. The uplifting, emotional piece powerfully and gracefully addresses togetherness and peace in times of strife. A standing ovation followed.

To close the night, all seniors were brought to the front of the choir for their fleeting last moments of performing with the group. Together the choir sang their traditional The Lord Bless You and Keep You. The audience gave lasting applause, and the McDaniel College Choir was without doubt deserving of it – their own beauty in song brought out their theme of beauty in the world.