The UB Choir has nearly doubled in size since last semester, but director Claudia Brown used this growth to expand in other areas.
“[With] this program, the music is much more difficult [than last semester]. It’s just on a different level in terms of scale. The size is bigger. The music is much more challenging,” said Brown, a clinical assistant professor in voice and choral music.
Still, as Brown gears up for her second end-of-the-semester show with her vocal groups, UB Choir and UB Chorus, she sees this semester’s performance as “more imaginative.” Despite an increased difficulty level for the student vocal groups, this semester’s show, “Stars,” takes a new thematic route for the choir and chorus on the Friday, May 11 show.
“[‘Stars’] is an exploration of the theme of the night sky and the stars and other celestial bodies –– an exploration of that in music and poetry,” Brown said. “It’s meant to be this very contemplative, transporting evening that looks upwards and takes us to a place of listening and watching to both music and poetry exploring the night sky.”
The performance will feature poetry, some of which was written by group members. Students will read their poetry in between pieces.
Diayan Raja, a tenor in both UB Choir and UB Chorus and a freshman sociology major, prepared poetry for the night and said he may be performing it in between pieces.
“I love stars. I love poetry. I think the idea of stars, the unknown, the excitement of love, pain, the dark sky, the bright sky, the sun and the moon and just everything is overall poetic. It’ll feel like a really good time,” Raja said.
Nicole St. Leger, a soprano in UB Choir and a freshman industrial engineering major, is preparing for her second school show with the choir.
“I’m excited about theme. It allows for a lot of really good repertoire, as opposed to the last performance [where] we did a lot of religious repertoire which didn’t really resonate with me on a real level,” St. Leger said. “It’s been a lot different as opposed to last semester. We’ve gotten a lot better. It’s fulfilling to know we’re all, in a sense, growing together.”
Aside from poetry and highlighting the groups’ growing memberships, “Stars” incorporates pieces in several different languages.
“We have a piece in Swedish about the night sky. We have a piece in German about a little star called ‘Das Sternlein.’ ‘Ave Maris Stella’ is in Latin,” Brown said.
But the piece some students are most excited about is “Gather the Stars” by Caroline Mallonée, a Buffalo composer. Mallonée worked with the group in preparation for the show.
Jeremy Raymore, a UB Choir tenor and a junior linguistics and music double major, said Mallonéegave useful advice when she worked with students.
“It was so good to have the perspective of the person who made the song. Her biggest notes were really emotional ones. You could tell more from her face and more from the way she said the [lyrics] than what she actually said because what was telling us was that we need to sing [the song] tenderly,” Raymore said. “We have to get this idea of gathering the stars and letting them go. But the message wouldn’t have been complete if it were anyone else telling it.”
“Stars” takes place on May 11 at 7:30 in Slee Hall. There will be a second performance on May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph University Church. Admission is free.
Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.