In the biggest collaboration yet among Harker vocal groups, ensembles from all three campuses gathered at a packed Blackford Theater on March 18 for this year’s United Voices concert.
Community was a major emphasis for this installment of the show. In order to give all classes the chance to see one another perform, a twist on the traditional technical run-through was held before the show took place: the performers sat in the audience instead of backstage. The performers also enjoyed a pasta dinner, where students from all campuses mingled with one another. Several upper school girls also assisted the lower school choir performers with their hair and wardrobe.
Vivace, directed by Dave Hart and featuring singers from grades 7 and 8, kicked off the show with Antonio Vivaldi’s “Laudamas Te” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “One Note Samba.” The group made three more appearances on stage that evening singing a variety of works, including traditional folk songs from Korea and Japan, as well as “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin. One number had them team up with the grade 7 and 8 group Harmonics for a special performance of the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”
Representing the lower school was the Bucknall Choir, made up of grade 4 and 5 students who were directed by Jennifer Cowgill. They sang “Red Dragonflies” by Kosaku Yamada, as well as the traditional Russian Yiddish piece “Turn Balalaika.” Special accompaniment was provided by Paul Woodruff on piano and Toni Woodruff on violin.
The first of the upper school groups to perform was Camerata, directed by Susan Nace, singing “Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis.” Bel Canto, directed by Catherine Snider and featuring juniors Alex Najibi on violin and the group’s accompanist, Ramya Rangan, on piano, then sang a beautiful arrangement of the traditional song “Shenandoah.”
Cantilena, Nace’s all-female group, performed the Native American-inspired soundscape “Watane,” which featured percussion, wind chimes and other atmospheric touches.
Roxann Hagemeyer directed the Grade 6 choir, who sang Susan Thrift’s “Antiphony Kyrie” before breaking into the energetic performances of “Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop” and “Feel the Beat,” driven by infectiously upbeat choreography.
Harmonics, directed by middle school music teachers Monica Colletti and Hagemeyer, performed a spirited, animated medleys of 1960s classics, which included such cultural standards as “Dancing in the Street,” “The Loco-Motion” and “Twist and Shout.”
Prior to the show’s final number, the upper school’s Downbeat, directed by Snider and Laura Lang-Ree, delivered a rich and moving version of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” after which all of the groups who performed that evening assembled on the stage for the last song. Following some thankful words from Lang-Ree to the parents and administration, Cowgill led the gathering of more than 175 students in singing a modern arrangement of the traditional English folk song “The Water is Wide,” a truly momentous performance that for the first time captured so many voices from all three campuses singing in harmony together. United, indeed!