St. Lawrence University’s Laurentian Singers will continue their annual spring break tour, this year to Philadelphia and Washington DC, with a concert in historic St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Prior to the full concert at 8pm, the Laurentian Singers will stop by for a short preview concert at 11:50 a.m. before the midday service. Both concerts are free and open to the public.
The Laurentian Singers, a select coeducational choir of 22 undergraduate singers, continues its 70-plus year tradition of choral excellence at St. Lawrence University. The group has won wide acclaim since its founding in 1946, and, in addition to their many performances on campus and in the community, the ensemble has toured extensively. In recent years, they have performed in New Orleans, Trinidad and Tobago, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, France, New York, Boston and Central Europe, singing for enthusiastic audiences and meeting with other choirs. Their wide-ranging repertoire, drawn from music of many styles and countries, reflects the spirit of the liberal arts experience at St. Lawrence. The Laurentian Singers includes undergraduate students who represent a wide variety of academic majors and interests.
The former and current U.S. capitals being the tour destinations, the program theme is “All-American.” The concert will open with two traditional 19th century sacred songs – “Down to the River to Pray” (sung by Alison Krause in the popular 2000 film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou) and “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal.” The major work on the program, Aaron Copland’s “In the Beginning” follows. A choral tour de force, it is a setting of the entire first chapter of Genesis depicting the creation of the world in vivid musical imagery, ending triumphantly with the text “and man became a living soul!” Two Stephen Foster songs, “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Some Folks,” both in beautiful arrangements by Alice Parker will close the first section.
Songs by two great American women songwriters, “Natural Woman” by Carole King and “Save the Country” by Laura Nyro open the second section. Next comes a set of African American Spirituals: “Walk With Me, Lord,” Robert Shaw’s setting of “Lord, If I Got My Ticket” and Jester Hairston’s energetic arrangement of “Who’ll Be a Wtiness For Our Lord.”
The concert will close with a set starting with Ysaye Barnwell’s (longtime bass singer with Sweet Honey on the Rock) “Wanting Memories,” continuing with “The Best of Rooms” by the dean of American choral composers Randall Thompson. A setting of the Sarah Teasdale poem “There Will Be Rest” by contemporary composer Frank Ticheli follows. The concert will come to a close with Thompson’s inspirational setting of the Robert Frost poem “Choose Something Like A Star.” Alumni will be invited to join the Laurentians in the singing of the traditional Songs of St. Lawrence. The Alma Mater was composed by Hollywood songwriter and lyricist J.K Gannon ’24 of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” fame.
About St. Lawrence University:
Founded in 1856, St. Lawrence University is a private, independent liberal arts institution of about 2,500 students located in Canton, New York. The educational opportunities at St. Lawrence inspire students and prepare them to be critical and creative thinkers, to find a compass for their lives and careers, and to pursue knowledge and understanding for the benefit of themselves, humanity and the planet. Through its focus on active engagement with ideas in and beyond the classroom, a St. Lawrence education leads students to make connections that transform lives and communities, from the local to the global. Visit www.stlawu.edu.