The Women’s Ensemble is an all-female vocal group that was founded in the fall of 2013. PING is a selective a capella group, limited to ten members, that is run by Choral Director Larry Vote. PING was founded just over two years ago and is, according to junior member Rachel Buxton, defined by the dictionary definition of it’s name: “a sharp resonate sound meant to draw attention.” The Chamber Singers make up the largest vocal group on campus, with over 30 members, and consists of music majors and non-majors.
Dozens of people turned out on Wednesday, April 9, for a vocal music concert hosted by the Music Department. The Women’s Ensemble opened the event with a series of songs by R. Vaughn Williams entitled “Folk Songs of the Four Seasons.” They performed ten songs, eleven including the prologue; each attributed to either spring, summer, or winter.
The songs themselves had to distinguish from one another as the ensemble never really stopped singing. The end of each song flowed into the beginning of the next, the only indication of each shift was a brief lull as the singers changed melodies. Buxton performed an impressive solo during the first song of the summer songs. Junior Lauren Rife and sophomore Caroline Davy performed a duet in the middle of the song “The Sheep Shearing,” also in the summer songs. Erin Tennyson provided the piano accompaniment for the entire Women’s Ensemble line up.
Buxton said of the Women’s Ensemble, “It has been a fun experience singing with an entirely treble ensemble because the sound is completely different than with a SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, base] choir.”
PING, the smallest and newest group in the concert, performed four songs by a variety of artists. Rachel Buxton performed another solo during “A Jubilant Song,” which was accompanied by piano instructor and artist-in-residence Brian Ganz. The last song in the PING performance, “De Profundis,” included members of the Chamber Singers and pianist Beverly Babcock on organ.
The Chamber Singers performed the longest set of songs. A set of five Hebrew love songs were accompanied by first-year Keely Houk on violin and Beverly Babcock, this time on piano. “Serenity-O Magnum Mysterium” was accompanied by sophomore Amanda Durst on cello. Sophomore Alexandra Kennedy performed a solo during the song Loch Lomond. Rachel Buxton performed her third solo during the “The Road Home.”
The concert was an excellent showcase for St Mary’s vocal talent. All three groups select their members through competitive auditions that ensure everyone who appeared on stage was well prepared to be there.
According to first-year Daley Burns, “the performance was dominated by a paradigm which one might define as geared towards the exceptional rather than the average.”
In addition to their impressive singing, each group was supported by talented instrumentalists on piano, organ, and violin.