“Music of the Spheres”

Standing in a circular formation and filling the entire Cochran Chapel, members of the Academy Chorus and Fidelio Society sang in complete unison to “One Voice” by Ruth Moody. The piece began with a gentle melody, before Erik Glover ’19 joined in with steady guitar strums. The tune transitioned to a series of hums, before the song concluded in a cappella.  

“I liked the entrance performance where the students were lined up in the rows. I felt like they were really connecting with the audience when they were singing that first song,” said audience member Kathleen Pease P’21.

This song opened Saturday’s Choral Concert, which featured performances by both the Academy Chorus and Fidelio Society. The concert, “Music of the Spheres,” was originally planned to center around a message of connection solely between the universe and humans. However, as the students rehearsed throughout the fall term, this theme morphed to also include a focus on their connection with each other and the community.

This concert took place during Family Weekend and allowed students to display the results of their rehearsals not only to their peers, but also to their parents.

“We were so impressed by the whole performance. It was our first time seeing a choir production, and we didn’t know what to expect, and we were just in awe of the talent. And the setting was beautiful, everyone looked wonderful, and it was just a peaceful and enjoyable performance,” said Pease.

“The Spheres,” performed by Fidelio, focused on the sun, stars, and planets and, touching on the original theme of the recital, connected music to the universe. Three slow piano notes sent off high pitched voices, which were matched with lower pitched harmonies. The tune then transitioned into a series of crescendoing melodies, starting from low, suspenseful notes growing towards one unwavering, high note.

“A lot of the pieces were very literal connections [to the theme]… We had two songs with the word sphere in them, [including this piece]” said Fidelio member Abigail Johnson ’19. “We had those very literal connections between them, lots of references to stars, to space, to planets, but then I think what was less audible in the pieces was the connection to people and how the chorus connected to them.”

The piece “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” an American folk song arranged by Allen Koepke and performed by Fidelio, brought diversity of rhythm to the repertoire as two harmonies echoed each other back and forth. The piece, which originates from around the time of the Underground Railroad and is centered around following the North Star to freedom, featured many high and smooth melodies.

“I enjoyed singing this song for its quick tempo and exciting rhythm. For me, the most challenging part about this term’s repertoire was counting and keeping track of rhythm. Luckily, Dr. Siegfried is an incredibly talented and energetic director, and she helps us with this, so long as we keep our heads out of our music and watch her,” said John Moreland ’18, one of the co-heads of Fidelio, in an email to The Phillipian.

“Thou Whose Harmony is the Music of Spheres” by Stephen Chatman was performed by the Academy Chorus and began with a clear, dancing instrumental introduction played on the oboe by Kaitlin Kan ’18, member of Fidelio. High and low pitched voices alternated before the two voices joined together in a uniting harmony.  

“[This was the most challenging piece] because the notes and the intervals are obscure and hard to get. There’s a lot of parallel fifths or minor seconds, but I think the chorus did a great job because everyone was super energetic and projecting. We were following the theme of music of the spheres, so everything was about [relationships],” said Ruide Wang ’18, a co-head of chorus.