The Holy Cross Chamber Singers, under the direction of conductor David Harris, have always sought to explore new musical territory; from performing original compositions to employing the latest techniques in vocal science. But this week, the Chamber Singers will take on a grand endeavor never previously attempted by the ensemble: an entire evening of staged opera scenes, arias, duets, and choruses. The key word here is staged. Unlike a traditional choral concert, the singers won’t be standing in uniform rows; instead, the Chamber Singers will be moving about Brooks Concert Hall, interacting with each other and using their acting skills in an interwoven plot.
“Even in some of the top choirs in the nation, choral singers have a tendency to hide behind their music folders and let the conductor be their puppeteer” says Laurel Mehaffey, resident vocologist for the Holy Cross Choirs. According to Mehaffey, who helped stage the concert, this unique experience has empowered the Chamber Singers to learn how to communicate in new ways. The Chamber Singers have had to develop their own characters and dive into the foreign language of their pieces to understand what their characters are striving to communicate. “It was amazing to see what each person’s creativity came up with,” says Mehaffey. “For many students, it was their first time thinking about building a character.”
Over the past three months, the Chamber Singers have worked tirelessly to hone their acting techniques – a step outside many of the singers’ comfort zones. “We, the singers, have been the authors of this work” explains Teresa Murphy ’19, mezzo-soprano. For Teresa, she had “always been much more comfortable with singing than acting,” but the “process of creating each singers’ role” was very rewarding. By the end of rehearsals, all of the singers learned how to explore the dynamic relationship between theatricality and music.
The concert, entitled Love and the Fyer, will be a tour de force of drama and music, featuring a diverse selection of operatic works from Carmen and Marriage of Figaro to choral works by Brahms and Morley. Each song will be bound together by a blissful plot filled with a healthy dose of drama and romance. For conductor David Harris and vocologist Laurel Mehaffey, the hope is that by the end of the concert, the audience will understand that “every song, written for a choir or opera, tells a story.”
-Adam Ouellet ‘16
Love and Fyer will take place in Brooks Concert Hall on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 8pm. Admission is free and open to the public. For more updates and information about the Holy Cross Choirs, check out the choir blog.