To kick off the holiday season, the UP Singers and Bel Canto choir will be performing their Advent Vespers Concert at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church Dec. 4, 2021. The concert continues the annual tradition of UP’s signature choral event.
This concert includes all the UP choirs and features a small chamber orchestra made up of a combination of orchestra students, faculty and alumni. The concert serves as a celebration of the holiday season and a gift back to the UP community.
This year, the concert is a bit different than in the past. On top of the difficulties COVID-19 has posed on the choir concerts and practices, it will also be the first time the concert will be held at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.
“We are singing in specially designed singer masks,” David De Lyser, the director of choral activities at UP, said. “So, that presents some difficulties in terms of hearing other parts. It presents some difficulties in terms of enunciation and so much of singing is expression. I mean, you're telling a story with your voice but you put a big mask over an important part of essentially what is the instrument, you lose a little bit of that connection to the audience because they're missing part of the performance by having a mask over your face.”
Despite these obstacles, students and directors have been working through the barriers presented when performing in masks since their first in-person concert in October.
“We listened to the October concert, and that was good for the students to hear how it came across and understand that as much as they think they are enunciating and as much as they think they might be singing through a crescendo or diminuendo, or some other expressive gesture that it takes even more for that to land the way we want to with the audience,” De Lyser said. “That was something we learned, so we may hopefully end up kind of making some adjustments so that as we go into this December concert, some of those expressive gestures that we're looking for will be able to land the way we want them.”
One of the most exciting aspects, according to De Lyser, of this year's concert is the premier performance of American choral composer, Elaine Hagenberg, piece Illuminare. The UP choir is one of eight choirs across the country to commission the piece from Hagenberg — meaning that they will be able to perform the piece before it’s made available to the public.
“We are actually the third choir to perform this ever,” De Lyser said. “The composer, having heard the first two, is constantly making changes to the score, which is very exciting because the students are actually part of the process of solidifying the version of this piece that the rest of the world will know.”
The Advent Vesper Concert is sold out, so make sure you look out for more concerts from the UP Singers and Bel Canto next semester.
Kimberly Cortez is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.