Academy Choral Concert Weaves a Story With and Without Words

From her spot on the balcony, the singular voice of Chloe Webster ’20 echoed throughout Cochran Chapel, soon joined by that of Denise Taveras ’21 standing on stage. As the song progressed, the melodic voices of chorus spread throughout the chapel, culminating in a piece about hope and familiarity.

This song, “Meet Me Here,” was the opening of the Academy Choral Concert, featuring the Phillips Academy Chorus and the Fidelio Society. The concert was open to families visiting the school during Andover’s annual Family Weekend.

Chorus member Elyse Goncalves ’23 said, “I personally really liked ‘Meet Me Here’ because one of the lines was ‘coming home to the light.’ Although we all had very different ideas and different personalities, we’re all coming together with the same message, which was that of love and happiness… It’s a non-sibi way of performing, it’s singing not just for yourself but for the large audience, and I really appreciate that.”

While singers spread out around the chapel in a formation called “the round,” audience members found themselves enveloped by voices. Audience member Myranda Lu ’23 felt the difference in effect from when all the members sang onstage.

“When we were surrounded, you could hear everyone’s individual voice. It literally gave me chills,” said Lu.

Accompanied by Rebecca Plummer on piano, the group performed songs that included a variety of sounds, such as clapping, stomping, and more. The leading theme of the concert, “Words Matter,” directly influenced the musical choices made by the director of both Chorus and Fidelio, Abbey Siegfried.

In an email to The Phillipian, Siegfried said, “I… believe that words truly do matter. The words we choose to say—the words we choose not to say. The pieces that we performed with texts are really poignant texts about the human condition and challenges our world faces.”

Songs such as “Miniyama Nayo” and “Nyon Nyon” were wordless. They consisted of percussive and vocal sounds rather than words, which repeated throughout the songs. “Miniyama Nayo” in particular showcased Fidelio’s ability to use their voices without words.

Abigail Taylor ’20, Co-Head of Chorus and member of Fidelio, said, “Being very deliberate about what words you sing is a really important part of singing, and [so is] being aware of when you’re singing words and when you’re not singing words. We had songs without words mirroring songs with words. That’s something that I think was really special about this concert.”

According to Siegfried, Chorus members are able to portray many positive emotions through the lyrics of their songs. Siegfried also believes that members should use this ability to spread positivity through their singing.

“If we are going to say something—if words do matter—we should use words that count and can make the world, or at least our little corner of it, a brighter, hope and joy filled place at least for the moments we share together during the concert,” wrote Siegfried.