BU vocal ensembles excel in homage to Canada

Reviewed by Sarah Kuras

This past Thursday (March 15), I had the pleasure of attending the joint Harpur Chorale/Women’s Chorus concert at Binghamton University’s Anderson Center. The two groups performed vocal works by Canadian composers, folk songs and songs of First Nation People. This beautifully curated selection of pieces highlighted the cultural backgrounds of the many regions and peoples of Canada, a country that has been a longtime passion of conductor Peter Browne.

The two choruses combined the first piece, then diverged to present varied works. Typically, in these joint performances, the Women’s Chorus performs first, then Harpur Chorale closes with its works. However, throughout this performance, both groups sat on stage and alternated sets. This helped showcase each group and created a greater cohesiveness to the concert.

Master’s student Molly Adams-Toomey conducted the Women’s Chorus brilliantly and expressively with great poise. This was the finest I have ever heard the Women’s Chorus perform. The rendition of James Gordon’s “Frobisher Bay,” arranged by Tamarack, was sweetly longing and perfectly eerie as the women outlined the story of a whaler lost at sea in an icy grave.

Harpur Chorale, conducted by Browne, sang wonderfully as always. Outstanding works included the”soundscape” by Mark Sirett, “Onokenoga,” which told the legend, through sounds, of a Mohawk warrior lost to the waters of the Lake on the Mountains and of the lover who searches for him. “Voices of Earth” by Stephen Chatman set to music an Archibald Lampman poem that Browne described as being the perfect expression of his experiences out in the Canadian wilderness.

Concluding with the Canadian National Anthem, “O, Canada”, for which members of the audience stood in reverence, this concert was a blend of new styles and traditional works and showcased the talents of the Binghamton students.

Upcoming BU Music Department performances include the Nukporfe African Drumming and Dance Ensemble at 8 p.m. March 29 in the Anderson Center and the free Mid-Day Concert series at 1:20 p.m. every Thursday in the Casadesus Recital Hall. For more information, see the department’s website .

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