Some of the choirs performing in the upcoming choral concert will have a consistent theme, others a diversity of genres, but all have been working hard to prepare for what will certainly be an impressive performance.
The Ohio Women’s Ensemble, Singing Men of Ohio and the Choral Union will all be singing at the First United Methodist Church on Friday, from 8 to 10 p.m.
Bradley Naylor is the director of choral activities and conductor for both the University Singers and Singing Men of Ohio, the latter of which will be performing first in Friday’s concert. Naylor does administrative oversight, but is also involved with artistic direction for the Singing Men of Ohio.
Naylor said the theme for the Singing Men of Ohio’s performance is one of “peace and thanksgiving.” The selected pieces include one by Renaissance composer Lodovico Viadana, one by Italian composer Vincent Persichetti, and two by Ron Jeffers about two brothers separated by the American Civil War. Each piece contains lyrics referring to peace, with Viadana’s containing Latin lyrics that translate into “let not your heart be troubled.” Persichetti's pieces feature exclamations of “Hallelujah” amidst calls for peace, and Jeffers’ repeats “we’re all working for the dawn of peace.”
“I’m excited for audiences to experience that journey from piece to piece,” Naylor said. “So often when one attends a choral concert, it can seem like ‘death by octavo,’ one piece followed without much reason by another piece. But I really think the Singing Men of Ohio’s repertoire in particular represents a journey that the audience can follow through.”
In charge of the other two performing choirs performing Friday, the Ohio Women’s Ensemble and the Choral Union, is Paul Mayhew, the associate director of choral activities and an assistant professor of choral musical education at Ohio University.
For both choirs, Mayhew said they decided to opt for a greater variety of music, differentiating themselves from the Singing Men of Ohio’s more focused approach. The Women’s Ensemble’s repertoire will include a classical piece by Joseph Haydn, a multicultural piece from northern Indonesia, and two contemporary pieces. Similarly, the Choral Union, a combination of students and Athens residents, will perform a baroque piece from a Polish composer, a contemporary piece and even a piece from musical theater.
“We try to create as much challenge as we can,” Mayhew said. “And I think the best way to describe the challenge in a concert with this kind of variety is kind of changing hats, singing a baroque or classical piece and switching into a musical theater piece, because you approach them with different styles.”
One of the biggest challenges for the Singing Men of Ohio was the Viadana piece. It contains a musical technique called polyphony, in which each of the three voice parts in the choir sing the phrasing at a different time than the others. Despite the Singing Men of Ohio being mainly non-music majors, Naylor displayed full confidence in their ability to have every piece learned and memorized by the time of the concert.
“[They] have really risen to that challenge,” Naylor said.
Cody Pomeroy, a senior studying media arts and studies and minoring in music, is the president of the Singing Men of Ohio. He is responsible for representing the ensemble, which will involve speaking during the concert and facilitating pre- and post-concert events.
“The focus of the Fall Choral Concert is explicitly to bring together multiple Ohio University School of Music Ensembles to collaborate and provide the community with vocal excellence,” Pomeroy said in an email. “The more implicit concert is centered around themes of civil war and conflict, accompanied with resolution both metaphorically and musically.”
“We’re excited just to showcase how far we’ve come just in the first seven weeks,” Mayhew said. “Who we are and what we are is really exciting.”