This article originally appeared in the winter 2013 Harker Quarterly.
Nichols Hall’s auditorium was packed on Nov. 15 for this year’s fall choral concert, which featured upper school singing groups Bel Canto, Camerata, Guys’ Gig and Cantilena. This concert focused on the work of Eastern and Central European composers, with a smattering of holiday favorites included in the spirit of the season.
Camerata, directed by Susan Nace, were the first performers of the evening with a pair of holiday songs by Arvo Pärt and Pierre Certon. Jennah Somers then directed Bel Canto, who performed traditional Russian and Macedonian folk songs, as well as a clever version of “The Nutcracker” with its familiar melodies sung to the lyrics of “Jingle Bells.”
Always crowd favorites, the allmale a cappella group Guys’ Gig took the stage and started things off with their rendition of Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time.” Following some amusing banter in which they realized their set was not in keeping with the theme of the show, the boys launched into “Tchaikovsky and Other Russians,” an amusing meditation on the tongue-twisting nature of Russian surnames. Susan Nace returned to direct headliners Cantilena, who were accompanied by Camerata on their first song of the evening, Tchaikovsky’s “Let My Prayer Arise,” which had the two groups trading verses, adapted to match each group’s style. They followed with a stirring performance of Mykola Leontovych’s “Shchedryk,” popularly known as “Carol of the Bells,” and ended the show on a rousing note with Zoltán Kodály’s “Táncnóta” (“Dancing Song”), which fittingly had the singers stomping in rhythm.