Academy Choral Concert Performs Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Music Ensemble Inspired Music Across the Globe

Coming full circle by standing in the same formation as their first song of their first concert of the year, Chorus and Fidelio Society surrounds the audience in Cochran Chapel, while singers sway on stage, line the aisles, or, for senior altos and sopranos, stand on the balcony. As they perform “Down in the Valley,” arranged by Michael Pettersen, the singers on the balcony project a high harmony, representing a plea for God to show the way.

“We ended the concert with ‘Down in the Valley’ because we started our first concert with it. It’s a nice start and ending, echoing. This piece is special not only because it’s a semi-famous religious piece, but also the way that we sing it is very special because our director, Dr. Siegfried, had all the Chorus members standing around the Chapel instead of on stage so people in the middle of the Chapel would hear voices from all over the place. It’s literally a rounded space. That definitely helped with the piece itself and helped it sound so great,” said Reader Wang ’18, a member of Fidelio and Chorus.

This song was the opener to last weekend’s Academy Choral Concert, the last Chorus and Fidelio Society concert of the year. The concert, conducted by Abbey Siegfried, Director of the Andover Chorus and Fidelio Society, took place in the Cochran Chapel and featured a variety of music, including Chinese, Norwegian, and American, inspired by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Musical Ensemble and their recent visit to Andover.

“We all work together as a team toward a greater goal, and when we perform, we all work together at the exact same time in a really unified concerted effort to make the most beautiful art that we can. It’s been not only a staple and anchor in my schedule, it gives me a sense of regularity and comfort at Andover which is often hard to find, but it’s also been a really humbling experience,” said Herbie Rimerman ’17, Co-President of Chorus and a member of Fidelio.

As they strongly patted their chests to a heartbeat, the members of the Chorus dived into “It Takes a Village,” composed by Joan Szymko. To a piano and drum accompaniment, the different voice parts layered rhythmic sections with the smooth, melodic choruses and the tenor solos, Sebastian Bishop ’18, Jules Gilligan ’17, and Haraldo Nesbeth ’17. Every part joined in harmony before ending with a dramatic drum beat.

“For ‘It Takes a Village,’ it was fitting for my last concert because the Andover Chorus has been a real community for me in my time here…‘It Takes a Village’ is about building a community, how everybody is not only a product of their respective community but also that everyone needs to come together to nurture the future and nurture the newcomers. That was really reflective of my experience going through the Chorus, coming in as a new Lower and not knowing much and being taken under the wind of some really strong and inspiring Seniors and then doing my best to fill those shoes and assume that role on my own,” said Rimerman.

Fidelio alone performed “Northern Lights,” composed by the Norwegian Ola Gjeilo. Gjeilo, a poet, was trying to invoke his feelings about the Northern Lights, according to Siegfried. They sang reservedly but as if they were awe inspired. Lots of sustained vowels punctuated this piece.

“Northern Lights is a really cool piece because of the way that it treats the text and the music as two different subjects. The music, like the composer says in his notes, mimics the Aurora Borealis with a lot of really haunting dynamic shifts and dissonant chord structures. It creates that ethereal, otherworldly effect which is pretty hard to achieve a lot of the time in music,” said Rimerman.