Forgetting Rivalries in the Name of Music

While Andover and Exeter students have considered each other rivals from the creation of the schools, there is not much exchange between Andover and Exeter students, with the exception of Andover/Exeter athletic competitions. However, this past weekend, the Exeter Concert Choir, Glee Club and Orchestra joined voices with the Andover Fidelio Society, Chorus and Orchestra in the Cochran Chapel for a special Andover/Exeter choral performance that represented a revival of a tradition stretching back several years. The joint concert took place at Andover on Saturday and at Exeter on Sunday. In total, about 200 students performed over the course of the entire weekend, with three guest soloists. Both Exeter’s Ryan Turner and Andover’s Christopher Walter conducted the musicians. “The Wedding Cantata” and “Schubert Mass in G” were the highlighted pieces during the concert, in which both schools’ entire vocal ensembles performed. The concert paid tribute to Andover alumnus Daniel Pinkham ’38, who just passed away this past winter. While at Andover he studied organ performance and music theory. He once said in a 1981 interview with The Boston Globe, “The single event that changed my life was a concert [at Andover] by the Trapp Family Singers in 1939, right after they had escaped from Germany.” Mr. Walter said, “We decided to perform the ‘Schubert Mass in G’ mainly because its composer, Franz Schubert, composed the song as a young man, about the age of the students singing tonight.” Historically, this event has taken place every year since the early 1980’s. However, to many people’s dismay, the tradition stopped around five years ago. The successful performance this past weekend was a revival of a much-loved event. Peter Lorenço of Andover’s music department reminisced, “I love the sound and spirit of these concerts. In years past I can remember the groups staying overnight at each other’s school and mixing together at the Saturday night social events.” The Andover Fidelio Society and Exeter Concert Choir mesmerized audiences with delicate sounding songs. However, when the two groups combined, their powerful voices could not be easily ignored. This concert showed the possibilities in musical achievement when working with a group comprising of over 100 students. Lorenço continued, “We had the advantage of performing major art music that would not be possible without the combined size and artistic strengths of both schools. These two schools are magnificent together and the students can really take pride in how beautifully they can combine to bring great art to all who want to be moved by it.” Additionally, this choral performance showed how music enabled the students to disregard the age-long rivalry and instead meld together in one harmonious, singing and stringing unit. Mr. Walter said, “With all the rivalry, the two schools are in many ways very similar, and many students actually know other students at Exeter and were looking forward to spending time with them.” Chris Li ’07 remarked that he felt a slight pressure of singing and competing against Exeter. But this pressure and respectful rivalry fueled the singers to achieve new heights. However, the experience was a healthy and productive one, and many new possibilities arose from this concert. “Outside of working with their choir, many of the Yorkies got to hang out with the Exeteras, Exeter’s all-male a cappella group. We just messed around with some tunes, and hopefully we can get some collaborative stuff going before the end of the year. I certainly hope that this will continue. There’s a time commitment to it, but it’s worth it,” Li said. Both Ryan Turner and Christopher Walter worked diligently throughout the Winter Term, preparing and rehearsing separately with their choruses. It wasn’t until the morning of the Saturday concert that Andover and Exeter met for the first time to practice. Luckily, the two schools showed remarkable camaraderie, and succeeded in directing their efforts purely for the music. “There was an instant bond in rehearsal, and it was great to hear how much each group had responded so well to that very beautiful piece,” said Mr. Walter of Fidelio and the Exeter Concert Choir’s remarkable performance of a shorter song entitled “Go Lovely Rose.” In terms of the concert being considered as a permanent event in the school’s calendar: “It’s always fun to sing with different people and be conducted by someone else – and it’s definitely more exciting,” Li commented. Hopefully this year’s spectacular performance will be reoccurring in the years to come.