UB Choir prepares for Spring concerts
“Love Songs from the British Isles” mixes melodies with humor
UB Choir Director Claudia Brown doesn’t care about being new. Brown, who began directing the choral program in 2017, harbors the challenge of running vocal groups and channels it into building a strong and diverse performance.
With the aid of 150+ students across a range of majors, impressing an audience is anything but difficult for her.
“Love Songs from the British Isles,” UB Choir’s latest showing, mixes catchy hooks and melodies with humor. The performance consists of songs inspired by English, Scottish and Irish music that deal with requited and unrequited love. Brown said the songs also contain a folk-song essence that is an attractive element and allows the audience to delve deeper into the narrative of each work. Performances begin on May 3 at St. Joseph's University Parish and conclude on May 4 at Lippes Concert Hall on North Campus.
“In previous semesters we’ve presented larger works, but this semester we’re presenting kind of small gems,” Brown said. “Each of them has some tale of a love that went array or a love that [has been fulfilled].”
Jeremy Raymore, a music composition major, sees the diversity in “Love Songs from the British Isles” as a source of excitement. He said working with Brown makes him “ecstatic” while also presenting new challenges and complex works.
“She knows how to choose pieces that will both highlight and challenge our skills,” Ramore said. “This concert features some of the beautiful lows and bright highs I’ve performed in my choral career.”
Each program follows a theme of Brown’s choice. She aims to bring together a “variety of emotions” that she described as “nostalgic and heartwarming folk songs, madrigals and anthems.”
Brown said that the program takes shape by combining the songs into a series of melodies. The students sing some songs in Scottish and Irish dialects and all 150 performers put in an extensive amount of time in order to learn the words and phrases.
“It’s been a fun linguistics process as well,” Brown said. “[Participants] are incredibly eager and enthusiastic and love to learn and they love to have challenges thrown at them.”
Raymore says the pieces have a strong personal appeal that resonated deeply and he hopes audience members share an emotional connection.
“It’s a great and comprehensive tour of emotion,” Raymore said. “Our pieces even inspired a personal composition about my own growing romantic relationship.”
The program includes lyrics and translations for the audience to follow along with each piece.
Sarah Wilson, a senior political science major and chorus president, echoes Raymore’s sentiments. She said this performance is “bittersweet” and fully encapsulates the group’s regular effort that the audience members will enjoy.
“I hope that every audience member leaves our show feeling better than they did when they arrived,” Wilson said. “Whether it’s a student who’s stressed about finals or someone who had a lousy day at the office, I really hope that we can make people forget about their worries for a little while.”
Brown said she’s looking forward to sharing her groups and their work with the UB community next weekend.
“There’s definitely a real sense of expectation and a real sense of excitement for the show,” Brown said. “It’s very hard work, but it’s also very rewarding work.”
Brian Evans is the senior arts editor and can be reached at Brian.Evans@ubspectrum.com and @BrianEvansSpec.