Sunday, September 20, 2015

SMWC Homecoming Choral Concert 2015: There's No Place Like...Home

Pictured: SMWC Choirs with SP Schola Cantorum
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel
Another Homecoming at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has come and gone, but the connections remain. The theme of this year's Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Chorale and Madrigals Homecoming Concert was "There's No Place Like...Home". The music chosen for the program by Michael Boswell, Director of Choirs, truly emphasized this theme in many ways.

The concert opened with a piece entitled "Hark! On the Windswept Breton Shore" by LaFarge. The SMWC Chorale was joined by the Sisters of Providence Schola Cantorum providing a musical representation of their connection. 
Pictured: Madrigals with Michael Boswell
Photo Credit: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

The SMWC Madrigals then performed two pieces. The first was "The Angels Will Guide You Home" by Eleanor Daley, describing a Heavenly home, and the second piece was a beautiful arrangement by Andrea Ramsey titled "Travelin' Home". This piece also featured Sharilyn Spicknall playing violin. The beauty of this piece is difficult to articulate, but as the choir sang the word home at the very end, the violin sounded a sustained note to create such a peaceful moment. Here is a short clip from the beginning of this piece during the rehearsal prior to the concert.

Pictured: Alumnae and Student Choir chat during rehearsal break
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
The SMWC Chorale and twenty-five returning Alumnae then came together to sing several pieces. Director Michael Boswell spoke a few words before they began:

"We have alum singers returning this year whose graduation dates range from 1968-2015, and I think many of them may still feel like their returning today is a return home. Faculty and staff may work here for decades, literally raising their families here, but they are often connected to other institutions and other geographical locations as well. Still, I believe many of us consider Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to be 'home.' So, what is it about this place that holds on to all of us? There is certainly a special spiritual element here. On that, I think we can all agree. But what else is it?...this is a place where you feel connected to others. This is a place where you feel like part of a community. This is a place where you have importance. I think that what we have that makes this place feel like home, is each other."

Pictured: Current SMWC music students
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
The first piece, "Come to Shore" by Audrey Snyder was followed by "Never Far From Home" by Mark Patterson. The full sound of the Chorale and Alumnae longingly singing the text "I leave the hills that I have known, the woods and meadows I have roamed. The journey calls and I must go, but I will never be far from home" brought tears to some audience members' eyes.

The final piece "Like a Tree", by Margaret Douroux/Arr. Lon Beery, was a gospel piece encompassing challenges to be overcome, but also spoke of not giving up and remaining strong:

Just like a tree that's planted by the water, 
I shall not be moved.
Pictured Hanna Mills and Sidnie Crowley
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
Though the winds are blowing all around me, 
I shall not be moved.
These winds will never last. This storm is sure to pass. 
This trial is just a test. So I shall not be moved. 

Though winds of affliction sweep over my soul,
And billows and storm clouds continue to roll, 
I shall not be moved!

Pictured: SMWC Chorale and Alumnae
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
The concert ended with the singing of the three traditional songs song every year at Homecoming:
Our Lady of Providence.........
by Rose Angela Horan, S.P./Cecilia Clare Bocard, S.P.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Song......
by Gertrude Smith, S.P./Dorothy Newland '32
The Ring Song.....
by SMWC Class of 1962

As all other alumnae who were present in the church, along with all current students and Sisters of Providence, stood in a circle around the sanctuary singing "The Ring Song", one-by-one, each slowly reached out and held the hand of the person standing next to them. One-by-one, they began to link the circle by holding hands as the melody rang throughout the church. Those singing and those listening were filled with a sense of belonging to something special, of feeling connected to everyone in that space and all those who had come before...and some shed tears. There has been struggle and yet there is always hope for those who return year after year to reconnect and feel the true sense of community.

As we wait for our next return "home" to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College through a reunion or Homecoming, let us consider these words by Hildegard of Bingen:

Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth
is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.

Pictured: Danielle and Roni O'Connor, alums
Photo Credit: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel
Pictured: Accompanist, Ronald D. Maurey
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
List of students and alumnae present at Homecoming Concert

Rehearsal of Chorale and Alumnae Choir

Michael Boswell, Director
Ronald D. Maurey, Accompanist
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Maurey
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle