Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Morningstar directs ‘The Sprig of Thyme’

By Jacob Colton

As the Plattsburgh weather begins to warm up and another semester comes to a close, the Plattsburgh State Concert Choir holds their end-of-semester performance. Led by Adjunct Lecturer and Choral Director Timothy Morningstar, “The Sprig of Thyme” will be held in Giltz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall at 7:30 p.m. May 12 and will be free to attend. 

What makes this different from usual concerts is the addition of extra instrumentation. During previous events, the only other instrument besides voice would be a piano played by Plattsburgh alumnus, Ryan Mahony. Occasionally, a second instrument would be involved, such as first-year Luke Gerhardt joining them on bongos last winter. This time, the group is going all-out as they will be joined by a small group of strings and woodwinds, played by professional musicians from the North County.

Another difference between previous concerts is the single multi-movement work that constitutes the whole evening. While the group will be singing 11 songs, not everyone in the choir and orchestra will be performing them. Some pieces will be from the sopranos, others will be the tenors. There will also be two features by sopranos Charlotte Stevens and Olivia Sorrell, both of which were featured in the Spring Gallery Concert a few weeks prior. 

“I felt that this was the perfect time to do a larger multi-movement piece,” Morningstar said. “As I searched for repertoire which would showcase the talents of the singers in the choir, I found a wonderful setting of English folk songs by the [20th century] British composer John Rutter.” 

Morningstars’ claims also go with how the ensembles and music programs on campus have grown over the past years. To go from only a handful of students singing over a computer screen to performing a 30-minute piece with an orchestra is progress the music department is happy to see.

Rutter’s music is a collection of 17th century English folk songs that he rearranged in the early 1990s. 

According to Rutter’s website, the piece “offers a selection of traditional songs of the British Isles, drawing together long-standing favourites as ‘Willow Song’ and ‘The Miller of Dee’ with lesser known gems as ‘O Can Ye Sew Cushions’ and ‘The Sprig of Thyme.’” 

Songs like “The Kneel Row” give the image of the village of Sandgate looking over the River Tyne. Other songs like “The Willow Tree” warn young people of false lovers. There is even a  fully a capella piece as embodied as the aforementioned “Willow Song.” 

For more information on the concert, email Morningstar at

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