Archive for March, 2016

Together In Song: Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Comes to Holy Cross

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

There is something undeniably unique about a chorus. If you’ve ever sung in one or had the chance to attend a choral performance, then you’ll understand the deeply compelling, innately human power of voices joining together in song. Yet choruses are more than just a source of entertainment; they build community, encourage social change, and strike at the very essence of what it means to be human. Since 1982, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, an ensemble of 175 voices, has inspired audiences and communities around the world simply by telling stories of who they are. On Saturday April 2 at 3pm, the BGMC will bring their stories to Holy Cross for a performance at the Dinand Library.

“When voices combine, something special happens” says Dan DiCenso, Assistant Professor of Music at Holy Cross who helped coordinate the concert and bring the BGMC to Mount Saint James. While teaching an honors seminar on music and gay rights this semester, Professor DiCenso thought a performance from the BGMC would be an effective way for his students “to witness how a choir constitutes community and how choral music functions as an agent of change.” With over 20 department sponsors, the event has attracted the enthusiasm and anticipation of a diverse cross-section of the college. Professor DiCenso hopes this concert not only demonstrates the “power of choral music,” but “raises important questions about what people need in order to feel a part of a community.”

According to Reuben Reynolds, Music Director of the BGMC, gay men’s choirs around the world have played a critical role in sparking dialogue and achieving rights for the LGBTQ community. As one of the seven oldest gay choruses in the country, the BGMC is affectionately hailed as a “grandparent of the entire movement,” reaching “more than 10,000 people each season and thousands more through recording, television and internet broadcasts.” Gay men’s choirs also serve as “important communities for their members” says Reynolds. “The BGMC is like a family. We’re always there for one another.”

The concert program, entitled “Capable of Anything,” is centered around the BGMC’s 10 day tour to the Middle East in June 2015. Four songs in the program will document the BGMC’s experience as the first LGBT chorus to perform in the Middle East, featuring a slideshow with photographs from the tour.

“Music creates dialogue and breaks barriers” says Reynolds. “Holy Cross has been so open and affirming about this concert. We were pleased to be asked to perform and we’re very excited to share our stories with [Holy Cross].”

The concert is free and open to the public. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 2:30pm. Learn more about the BGMC’s upcoming performance at Holy Cross here.

– Adam Ouellet ’16

Spotlight on the Arts: Purva Rumde ’18

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

On Feb. 10, Purva Rumde ’18 and two other Holy Cross students received recognition awards at ArtsWorcester’s 12th annual College Show, which  exhibited the artwork of students from the Worcester-area colleges and universities.

In this reflection, Purva discusses her inspiration for her award-winning work:

“Tangles,” pastel and charcoal on paper

Purva - tangles

“For class, we were asked to construct a portrait inspired by an artist known for their compelling self-portraits. I chose Frida Khalo, who utilized surreal-realism as a vehicle to convey her physical but also psychological self. While Khalo’s work proudly highlights her insecurities and attributes, I am more muted. I don’t share my personal fears. After much self reflection, I came up with different aspects of myself that were uniquely “me.” My hair is my biggest insecurity, but also my most defining physical characteristic. My introspective work is an attempt to shine a light on this darker aspect of my psychological self, in a hope to one day overcome my fear of my tangles and develop an appreciation in its place.”

I am grateful that my piece has been chosen for the College Art Show. There are many other wonderful pieces students have submitted, and the Show itself is a great opportunity to showcase their artistic visions, but also personal parts of themselves.” – Purva Rumde ’18

Spotlight on the Arts: Margaret MacMullin ’16

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

On Feb. 10, Margaret MacMullin ’16 and two other Holy Cross students received recognition awards at ArtsWorcester’s 12th annual College Show, which  exhibited the artwork of students from the Worcester-area colleges and universities.

In this reflection, Margaret discusses her inspiration for her award-winning work:

“Paper Plane,” oil bar, paper, and collage

Maggie - paper plane

“I created Paper Plane as my final project for Fundamentals of Drawing. Professor Remby had introduced the class to oil bar just a few weeks before, and it became my favorite medium: I could smudge and smear the paint with my fingers, removing the usual barrier of utensils between the artist and the work. The idea of the paper plane as a subject came from a song about a broken relationship, but as I started sketching, the idea developed into something more. Just like a paper plane is subject to even the smallest gust of wind, so is any new endeavor. When the hand releases the plane, control of the plane is surrendered.”

“While drawing, I thought about how I would soon be entering the unknown, traveling on a real plane to study abroad. Anything that I had ever started and failed, begun and succeeded, everything I will ever attempt–all of that, for me, is in that drawing.”

 “Before the College Art Show, I had never had my work exhibited in a gallery. I have struggled to define “art” for myself: why do I like create, is there an ultimate goal for “art“? And the best answer I can give is communication. But without a listener, a work cannot speak. ArtsWorcester provides that forum, and I am so grateful that Paper Plane found a place in the conversation.” – Margaret MacMullin ’16

Spotlight on the Arts: Nina Ho ’16

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

On Feb. 10, Nina Ho ’16 and two other Holy Cross students received recognition awards at ArtsWorcester’s 12th annual College Show, which  exhibited the artwork of students from the Worcester-area colleges and universities.

In this reflection, Nina discusses her inspiration for her award-winning work:

“My Instalife,” matte paper book


“Social media has become an important part of our life. In a way, it has somewhat taken over how we make and store our memories. Instagram is a great example of how our memories have become digitalized. Therefore, through this work I wanted to transform my piece from 2-dimensional into 3-dimensional and from digital back to physical. I did this by using the photos I posted on my Instagram account and recreated that into a physical “photo album.”

 “My Instalife, was a final project I made for my Book Projects class, which I took last Fall. I was extremely surprised to have received this recognition. Everyone in the show did such a beautiful job and I had thought mine was too confusing, but I am very honored to have my work on display and share a space with such talented artists. The College Art Show is a great opportunity for student artists to not only allow the audience but also themselves to appreciate and enjoy their work.” – Nina Ho ’16

A Poet’s Love: Paul Houghtaling, bass-baritone

March 14th, 2016 by arouel16

On Monday March 14 at 8pm in Brooks Concert Hall, Paul Houghtaling, bass-baritone will perform Robert Schumann’s infamous song-cycle Dichterliebe. Learn more about the upcoming performance in this Q&A:

What makes singing a song cycle like Dichterliebe different from performing other vocal works, such as an opera aria or a recitative? 

Dichterliebe is one of the most beloved lieder cycles in the repertoire.  It’s special in that the 16 songs tell the story – the journey – of one protagonist, in this case a poet who is struggling with unrequited love. Other cycles by Schumann and Schubert are similar in this regard and that gives the work an “operatic” quality in some ways.  But only because of the narrative.  Vocally, the cycles allows the singer to explore more intimate sounds than one could afford to use in most operas, yet the cycle also requires a full, open approach when the poet is at his emotional extremes.

Why do you think Dichterliebe has become such a focal point of Schumann’s career and a major work in his repertoire?

Dichterliebe is widely considered to be autobiographical in nature with the struggles of Heine’s poet mirroring those of the composer with regard to his relationship with Clara Wieck.  Everyone can relate to the emotional journey of a man desperately in love, especially when Schumann created some of his most profoundly human music to accompany the poet’s story. The relationship between the vocal writing and the piano part is especially important. A hallmark of the romantic style, of course, Schumann’s piano writing in Dichterliebe is masterful and as integral to the poet’s journey as the voice line and the text.  One need only listen to the opening of “Im wunderschonen monat Mai” for its magical quality and the very final statement of the cycle, which is among the most poignant and moving piano solos in the entire repertoire.

The subject of Dichterliebe (“A Poet’s Love”)is wrought with emotional intensity. What would you say is the emotional turning point or climax of this cycle? How do you go about singing such emotionally-dense material? 

The cycle comes to a mini-conclusion, or its first shift in tone, at “Ich grolle nicht,” both vocally and emotionally. From this point forward, the poet is resigned to the bitter nature of his unrequited love, and then nature begins to speak to him, he hears music in flutes and drums, he sadly recalls his love singing, he weepily remembers  better moments from their past, and he struggles with his dreams.  Again, personification, dreams, nature, tears — these are all common obsessions of the romantics. As a singer, looking at the work as a whole allows me to find the pacing and the high and low points for the protagonist.  I also think of the work theatrically – his journey – and the fact that I’ve been singing it for 16 years helps a great deal as well.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of this work?

That’s a good question.  Certainly I think about pacing the half-hour cycle, but also to remain true and authentic to the moments in this man’s life as they unfold over the cycle.  As an actor, the most sensitive part is finding the balance between the despair and the resolution, the realization that while this ill-fated romance melted away like foam, there will be a shining summer morning yet again, this time, perhaps, filled with hope.