Students were invited to attend a unique vocal concert on Saturday, March 25, as the recently formed all-student chamber choir “Ping” performed an array of traditional choir songs in the newly reconstructed chapel in Historic St. Mary’s City.
Ping, named after the sharp resonant sound meant to attract attention, sang pieces from several different centuries, beginning the show with “Sicut Cervus,” written by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and “Kyrie” from “Mass for Four Voices” by William Byrd.
Director Larry Vote came up with Ping while on sabbatical during the fall term.“I was fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s finest choirs and their directors in Oxford and Cambridge and it occurred to me that such a group could be formed with the fine voices that we have at SMCM,” Vote said. “This would be a group from the already very talented Chamber Singers who wanted to put in even more time toward creating exquisite choral music.”
“I thought the show was fantastic,” said sophomore Molly Domino. “The pieces they performed were extremely beautiful, and the choice to hold the event in the chapel only made these already talented singers sound even better. If they continue to do such a good job I’ll only have good things to say about Ping.”
The acapella voices echoed in high ceilings of the chapel creating a lovely effect as Ping performed song after song. This effect was especially notable during “Magnificat” by Arvo Part, in which the soprano and tenor sections played off of one another through call and response.
“Performing in the very special venue of the reconstructed Chapel is very thrilling as there is no other space that produces the acoustical effect of a 17th-century building,” Vote added. “I was particularly happy with the performance of Palestrina’s ‘Sicut Cervus’ and Arvo Part’s ‘Magnificat.’ They are very different but beautiful pieces that benefited from the great acoustics of the Chapel.”
“The one that stuck out for me was the Kyrie,” Domino added. “It gave me shivers it was so good. I’m looking forward to their next performance.”
According to Vote, the favorite song among the choir singers was “Blessing the Boats” written by alumnus Scott Humburg, ‘08, who transformed the poem originally written by Lucille Clifton into a beautiful choir piece. The melody of the song mimicked the grace and flow of the very river that inspired the lyrics.
Ben Israel, a sophomore, also enjoyed the performance. “The singers’ voices sounded wonderful in the chapel,” said Israel. “I think that as a new group, Ping is an excellent addition to other singing organizations on campus. I particularly enjoyed ‘Deep River,’ especially the bass singer’s portions. I thought the performance was well done and that it was a pity that it was in such a small venue. However, the impressive sound more than made up for the small audience.”
Following their performance, Ping received a much-deserved standing ovation. Auditions for Ping will be held at the end of each semester as openings in the ensemble become available. Ping will also be performing in the upcoming Chamber Singers Concert on April 29.