Andover Vocal Groups Embrace International Music

Stepping out of their musical comfort zones, Fidelio Society, the Academy Chorus and a number of soloists incorporated arrangements in foreign languages into their concert repertoire this past Family Weekend.

Kicking off the concert, Nolan Crawford ’15 sang a solo in Italian, Giuseppe Torelli’s “Tu lo sai.” The song’s title translates to “You Now Know,” and expresses an unrequited love towards another. Crawford’s voice rose and fell dramatically with emotion.

“Nolan sounded great on his solo. The chapel helped his voice; he sound[ed] fantastic as usual,” said Tom Burnett ’15, a member of Fidelio.

After Crawford’s performance, the concert continued to feature vocal pieces in a variety of languages. Having chosen to sing songs in Hungarian, Spanish and German, Fidelio committed themselves to creating an atmosphere of cultural authenticity in their performances.

“Having a concert with almost no English is always a challenge, but we proved to be up to it,” said Burnett. “Our rehearsal process was pretty rigorous and thorough. We started learning the music the first day we got back to school, and [Christopher] Walter, [Instructor in Music], always coached us on our diction. We’d learn the diction first, and then the music, a process which works extremely well.”

A dramatic atmosphere fell upon the audience when Fidelio began their rendition of “Dindirin,” a 15th century piece anonymously written in Spanish. The performers conveyed a tone of urgency and unrest by keeping the dynamics soft, but the tempo quick.

According to members of Fidelio, the soprano and alto sections mimicked the sounds of the nightingale, from which the title is derived, while the tenor and the bass repeated deep, accentuated syllables. The piece tells the story of an individual asking a nightingale to deliver devastating news to a lover. The singers continued to softly mimic the sounds of the nightingale until the piece faded into an eerie silence.

Fidelio ended on a positive note with “Abendlied, Op. 69,” a German piece written by Joseph Rheinberger.

“Fidelio isn’t about solos or about what you, by yourself, can contribute to the group. It’s about blending and about hearing those around you and adapting your voice to theirs. ‘Abendlied’ really emphasizes this aspect of Fidelio and this is mainly why it was my favorite piece we performed,” said Joel Pena ’16.

In addition to performances by Fidelio, the concert also featured vocal renditions by the Academy Chorus, a non-audition choir group open to all interested Andover students. Each of their pieces focused on a different part of Eastern Europe, including Bosnia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Georgia and Russia.

During their performance of “Svatba,” a traditional Bulgarian wedding song, the female Chorus members sang without male accompaniment. The lack of the deeper male vocals allowed the piece’s sharp syllables and upbeat tune to shine through.

Complementing the all-female performance of “Svatba,” the male Chorus members proceeded to perform “Shuka-Shuka,” a traditional Georgian folk song. The vocalists worked together to achieve a balance between higher and lower pitched voices that is usually established by a female-male pairing.

“I find it interesting how they incorporate different cultural elements into the music. Especially, some of the folk songs–he way they sang them, it was adapted to the style of the culture it came from,” said Sam Hagler ‘16, a member of the audience.