Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Guest Artists, Creative Collaborations, and Artistic Beauty Abound!

In the Department of Music and Theatre at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), we sometimes proclaim "We are small, but mighty!" to try to describe the creativity, passion, and resourcefulness of the faculty and students to produce the many high quality events throughout each year, enriching the College community and the Wabash Valley. As an example, read about all of the wonderful events presented by "the little department that could" during the month of April.
McIntyre rehearsing the Chamber Choir
On April 7, 2016, Dr. John McIntyre presented his compositions in a diverse and exciting program, featuring a vocal ensemble of professional singers from four different states, the Indiana State University Brass Ensemble, and many more performers, including Michael Boswell, Associate Professor of Music, and Ron Maurey, Instructor of Music, at SMWC. This program brought an energy to the Conservatory and the campus and was very well attended. Below is one beautiful setting by Dr. McIntyre of the hymn "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" performed on this concert. 

Professional Ensemble Singers
following concert
Dr. John McInytre, composer, with
colleague/singer Michael Boswell
Then, on April 22, 2016, Guest Artist and Grammy winner Estelí Gomez, soprano, arrived on campus to begin rehearsing with the SMWC Chorale and Madrigals, along with Director Michael Boswell and Guest Artist Dr. Michael Boney, organ. The Department posted a couple of sneak peeks prior to the Spring Choral Concert on Sunday, April 24th, and Norwegian composer of the "Magnificat", Kim André Arnesen posted one of them on his own Facebook page.

Guest Artists with SMWC faculty M. Boswell
On Saturday April 23rd, Gomez facilitated a Voice Master Class in Cecilian Auditorium with three of our SMWC music students (Nathan Mensah, senior; Allison Payonk, sophomore; and Kristin Foster, freshman), one ISU music student and a student from Terre Haute North High School. The master class lasted 2 1/2 hours and the students commented that it went by too quickly! They learned so much in a short time and Gomez was able to provide some new context to pieces they have been working on all semester.
SMWC Music Faculty and Guest Artists E. Gomez and C. Davin
The Spring Choral Concert on Sunday, April 24th, titled Northern Lights: Exploring the Choral Music of Scandinavia, took place in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The audience first heard Estelí Gomez, soprano soloist, on "Norwegian Trilogy" arranged by Margaret King. Estelí was standing in the balcony and took many audience members by surprise. Then, as SMWC music faculty Sharon R. Boyle described how Boswell was able to bring Gomez to SMWC and also introduced the next piece, the Madrigals moved to the balcony, where Michael Boswell conducted the "Magnificat"by Kim André Arnesen with Michael Boney accompanying on the organ. As her soprano voice rang throughout the church, the Madrigals' voices joined her, and the beauty was palpable in the soaring melodic lines and harmonies. During the 4th movement, "Et Misericordia", many audience members expressed emotions by taking deep breaths, tearing up, closing their eyes, or smiling. The entire piece lasted more than 40 minutes, and the audience was asked to just take in the music and listen in silence until the very end. During the 6th movement, "Suscepit Israel", Gomez was joined in a duet by senior Christina Pifer. Following the concert, Pifer's mother was in tears, stating how important the experience had been for her daughter. Many in the audience seemed to be transported somewhere else as they listened, while others appeared prayerful or in meditation. The concert ended with a rousing piece titled "Safari", which involved Michael Boswell, conductor, turning to the audience and singing an enthusiastic solo, which was then answered by Estelí Gomez' own. The Chorale and Madrigals energetically responded by singing, clapping, and stomping as Gomez improvised an incredible yodel-like vocal line over the top.
 Ring Song following concert
Gomez with Christina Pifer, senior

On April 25, 2016, Gomez was joined by acclaimed guitarist Colin Davin for a Guest Artist Concert entitled Destinations Unknown: Songs of Home and Travel in Cecilian Auditorium. The duo presented Spanish pieces by Manuel de Falla, German pieces by Schumann and French pieces by Duparc. In this concert Estelí demonstrated again how she is able to adjust her vocal tone and placement to suit any style or nuance of a piece. Davin wowed the audience with his clear intention of each note, his technical prowess on the classical guitar, and the beautiful voicing he presented in the guitar melodies. The audience was able to truly enjoy hearing some of the finest musicians ever brought to our campus. Below is a piece "Sevillanas Del Siglo XVII" from Canciones espanolas antiguas by Lorca which demonstrates the energetic pairing of voice and guitar.

         Guest Artists with SMWC faculty member 

Richardson performing during live concert recording
The final event of the semester was the live concert recording of Dr. Tracy Richardson, on April 28, 2016 in Cecilian Auditorium. Her concert included covers of some of her favorite songs over several decades, in addition to her own songs, written in a range of styles including country, blues, gospel, and pop. The live recording will be used to create a CD to hopefully help fund a future recording project. The mellow sounds of her rich alto voice with the elegant picture of her playing a Steinway truly demonstrate the diversity of music offerings from the Department of Music and Theatre.

In writing about these artistic offerings and as an audience member, I feel there must truly be hope for humanity, having the ability to create such beauty. Congratulations to everyone involved in all our concerts, recitals, and productions throughout the 2015-16 academic year!

Students learn about life as a professional singer
For more information about the Department of Music and Theatre, please check out our website!

- Sharon R. Boyle, blog author, is Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Music Therapy Program.

*All Photo Credits: Sharon R. Boyle