The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and Plattsburgh State’s Concert Choir is getting ready for its annual ChoralFest titled “Birdsongs, Bach, and the Beatles.”
The show will be approximately 30 to 40 minutes of music straight through with no intermission and short pieces in a variety of styles.
“It has been going on for many many years and it changes each year,” Choir Director and Professor Jo Ellen Miano said. “I design the nature of the event based on the students I have in the choir and the kind of repertoire we can prepare, so I chose a repertoire that fits the particular singers we have.”
Miano said the show is going to open up with a really fun piece called “Borruée in E minor” by Bach. The choir is also going to close the show with another joyful piece called “Le chant des Oiseaux” or “The Song of the Birds,” by Clément Janequin, which will be sung in French.
“It’s probably been the most challenging of all the pieces, which made it the most fun to learn for me at least,” second-year graduate student and choir alto Takeo Kelly said.
Along with singing Renaissance period songs, the choir will also be doing a contemporary arrangement of “Blackbird” by the Beatles. The song will be a cappella and include some whistles.
“We’re doing a vocal cover of it, and I love the Beatles so I think it’s going to be really cute,” junior and soprano Angelika Velez. “It’s really just kind of [a] folky kind of song. I think it’s really adorable.”
While ChoralFest usually has an orchestra performing with them, this year, one of its own students, sophomore tenor Bach Do, will accompany the choir on piano with “Three Hungarian Folk Songs.”
“Even though this is a one-credit class, we take all the music in this class very seriously because we don’t want to deliver mediocre music to the audience,” Do said. “So we work very hard on the pieces, especially myself. I work really hard on the piece because I don’t want to ruin the whole choir by ruining it.”
The choir meets twice a week to practice. It also looks over its music and practice outside of the classroom too.
“Showing up to rehearsals is really important to stay on top of preparing for the performance,” Kelly said. “Jo Ellen is a great teacher, so we all learn a lot from her. If you have to miss some classes, then it’s good to look over your music on your own time, but being in class with everyone else is, of course, more helpful to learn the music.”
ChoralFest 2019 will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Glitz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall. Student Association members will get into the event for free, while there will be $3 fee for faculty and seniors and a $6 fee for the general public.
“It’s really fun working with Ms. Miano,” senior assistant choral conductor Michael Hudlin said. “She’s very funny, and she does a lot of strange things but it gets the result that she wants. And once the choir responds to you, that’s the most important thing.”