Student singers from every campus gathered at San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Theater in late March for this year’s United Voices concert, which brought all of Harker’s talented vocal groups to one stage.
Middle school choirs Harmonics and Vivace kicked off the show by teaming up on a medley of the traditional Shaker song “Simple Gifts” and the famous “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel, directed by Dave Hart. The two groups would also perform individually later that evening. Harmonics, directed by Monica Colletti and Roxann Hagemeyer, wowed the audience with their rendition of “Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Show,” and Dave Hart directed Vivace, who performed the traditional “Down By the Riverside,” with musical accompaniment from guitarist Nikhil Parmar, bassist Jonathan Yiu, and drummer Rohan Desikan, all grade 8, pianist Michael Tseitlin, grade 7.
Dynamics, the grade 6 show choir directed by Roxann Hagemeyer, was the third middle school group to perform during the evening, singing Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon’s standard “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “The Frim Fram Sauce,” made famous by the Nat King Cole Trio.
The lower school was represented by the Bucknall Choir, made up of students in grades 4 and 5, who sang the Scottish folk song “Ally Bally” and the American folk song “Red River Dances.” Donna Boucher, grade 5, provided accompaniment on flute.
The first of the upper school groups to perform was Susan Nace’s group Camerata, singing 17th century composer Johannes Jeep’s “Musica, dieganz lieblich Kunst” (“Music, the most lovely art”) before switching gears to the spiritual “I Hear a Voice A-Prayin’,” by Houston Bright.
Cantilena, also directed by Nace, sang a diverse set of three songs, beginning with the stirring traditional “Hark! I Hear the Harps Eternal,” followed by the haunting “Lan Hua Hua” by Liu Zhuang and concluding with Nace’s own arrangement of the Roger Nixon piece “Carol.” The late Nixon’s granddaughter, Bridget, grade 12, sings in the ensemble.
Jennifer Cowgill directed the upper school’s choir Bel Canto, who performed the spiritual “Guide My Wayfarin’ Feet” and the Cuban folk song “Guantanamera.” Their set also included impressive solo performances by Katia Mironova, grade 10, Justin Gerard, grade 11 and Jeton Gutierrez-Bujari, grade 9.
Downbeat, the upper school’s show choir, took the stage just before the finale. Directed by Laura-Lang Ree and Catherine Snider, the well-practiced group first performed a spirituals medley, combining “Just Across That River” and “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.” Their set concluded with a rousing rendition of The Doobie Brothers’ “Listen to the Music.”
Finally, all of the evening’s singers assembled on the stage to perform “Tshotsholoza,” a South African folk song with African-style drumming provided by Vivace’s rhythm section. The performers received a much-deserved standing ovation not just for the stunning finale, but also for the musicianship they displayed throughout the evening.