Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The best in the west

By Alison Haywood, Copy Editor

Not many ensembles receive a warm round of applause before they even came onstage. The Choir of the West’s reputation alone was enough to impress its audience at its most recent performance.

After a five-day tour of Western Washington and Oregon, Pacific Lutheran’s Choir of the West gave its homecoming concert in Lagerquist hall 8 p.m. Tuesday. The choir performed a wide variety of repertoire including classical, modern, popular and jazz pieces.

“Almost anybody could find something they would enjoy,” said director of choral activities Richard Nance. “It [The program] has a lot of variety in it.”

Per tradition, the Choir of the West opened and closed its set with signature Lutheran hymns, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and “Beautiful Savior.” The final piece brought tears to soprano senior Michelle Cipollone’s eyes.

One of the least predictable pieces they performed was the modern jazz piece “Weather Report.” Although the lyrics were comprised of parodies of clichés and well-known poems, including “thirty days has September,” the music was anything but conventional. Dissonant chords clashed on a background of familiar words and phrases, syncopated almost beyond recognition.

“It’s different and has a little bit of a groove to it, which I think COW can really pull off,” senior Angela Conley said.

First-year Michael Plagerman described “Seid Fröhlich in Hoffnung” as “sufficiently joyous in color and texture that, were it heard internationally, the United Nations would be rendered unnecessary.”

The Choir of the West sang some selections from the concert, including “A Drop in the Ocean” and “Machet die Tore Weit” earlier in the year for their fall concert and the American Choral Directors Association conference. Others, such as the PLUtonic/HERmonic style pop piece “Cells Planet” the group learned in time for the tour.

The Choir of the West tours every year, going abroad once every four years. Last year the choir went to France and Germany. This year they traveled throughout Western Washington and Oregon.

It will join forces with the University Symphony Orchestra and University Chorale May 15 for Professor of Music Greg Youtz’s concert “Drum Taps.”