“Our Home: Music of the United States” gave an evening audience exactly what was printed on the flier and then some on the evening of Nov. 15, as upper school vocal groups Cantilena, Camerata and Guys’ Gig, in addition to many talented soloists, paid tribute to the music of America, both modern and classic.
The concert, directed by Susan Nace, fittingly opened with all of the evening’s singers joining forces for a spectacular rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The upper school chamber ensemble Camerata then took the stage to perform a trio of joyous and heartfelt odes to America, starting with the famous “America the Beautiful,” and continuing with Oscar Peterson’s “A Hymn to Freedom.” Camerata finished their set with composer Abbie Betinis’ “Journey Home.”
Following Camerata, a slew of capable soloists appeared, singing a wide variety of pieces, from sophomore Shreya Basu’s performance of the traditional “Every Night When the Sun Goes In” to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Think of Me,” sung by Caroline Howells, grade 10. Although the concert showcased music from the United States, the show also made room for pieces by noted European composers such as Frederic Chopin, whose “Nocturne” in E-flat major was beautifully performed by pianist Pooja Shah, grade 12. Continuing with the evening’s classical selections were Wendy Shwe, grade 12, playing Beethoven’s “Sonata” in A major on piano and Rebecca Liu, grade 12, singing Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s “O, Del Mio Dolce Ardor.” The solo performances concluded with Nina Sabharwal, grade 12, singing a perfectly misty-eyed version of the jazz standard “Willow Weep for Me” by Ann Ronell.
Guys’ Gig, the all-male a cappella group, then gathered on stage for their first performance of the year. The boys performed an amusing skit in which they attempted to start a song sans a tenor section, at which point they called the freshmen to the stage from the audience to sing “Good Ol’ A Cappella” by Carter and Nevada. With the group now firing on all cylinders, they continued with the classic Motown tune “My Girl” and finished with a raucous version of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
Harker’s all-female choral group Cantilena was the last of the groups to perform that evening prior to the finale. The singers were in fine form taking on a diverse selection, which included Brian Holmes’ “I Shall Keep Singing,” the traditional American song “He’s Gone Away” and Stephen Hatfield’s gospel treat “Run Children Run.” Rebecca Liu took the role of conductor on “Sing Me to Heaven” by Daniel Gawthorpe, before the group finished their set with their signature piece, “How Can I Keep from Singing,” by Robert Lowry.
The finale again reunited the vocalists for an exhilarating version of Ysaye Barnwell’s “We Are…,” for which the singers received a well-deserved extended ovation.