By Sherry Larson
Music is good for the soul, and Tuesday evening, April 11, proved that time spent in the presence of harmonious voices brings on all the “feels”.
There is a longstanding tradition between Morehead State University and West Union High School’s music departments and the University shared its talented Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. Corbett Phipps of the Christian Union Church in West Union made introductions and commendations, delivering his ever-witty dialogue. He thanked church members Sara Lewis, Sarene Bellamy and Angel Stevenson for providing a home-cooked meal for the singers who likely needed a nap but went on with the show. Dakota Nehus, Choir Director for West Union High School, graduated from Morehead and said of their Conductor, Dr. Greg Detweiler, “He made my experience memorable.” The Choir enjoyed the accompaniment of Morehead’s pianist, William A. Murphy.
Some evening highlights included the stunning and emotional performance of “Ave Maria” and standout tenor Samuel Smittle, who beautifully hit a few intense high notes. The haunting “Ukrainian Alleluia” moved the audience with its pain and crescendo of hope. Detweiler said of the arrangement, “It combines the pain Ukraine is going through and the element of hope.”
An Indonesian folk song, “Hela Rotan” (Pull the Rattan), performed by the Concert Choir, was lively and fun. The most spirited and playful performance of the evening was “Maquerule,” a traditional Columbia Folksong. Soprano, Summer Lighthall, featured her angelic voice and left the crowd with smiles on their faces.
The Concert Choir mastered the sometimes prophetic and always poetic artistry of Bob Dylan with “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” And each singer wore enlivened expressions during their presentation of “Celtic Dance.”
The Chamber Singers performed a traditional spiritual called “Sometimes I Feel,” showcasing alto and former Carl Schneider student and West Union graduate Sarah White-Jarman. The song was perhaps the most potent, permeating the life events of enslaved people and their expression of faith in hope and sorrow through music.
Soprano Katie Webb, flutist Olivia Hall, and the Chamber would have made Dolly Parton proud with their rendition of “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” Webb’s voice belted unapologetically and filled the room with a joyous song. A loud whisperer in the audience said, “She’s good!” Indeed, she was.
The evening’s intermission included Christian Union’s Becky Plymail singing and playing the piano with happy gospel sounds.
Music filled the little Christian Union Church, making it a sanctuary of song and bringing to the surface emotions and responses that only the language of music can do.