On Tuesday, April 30, Hopkins Concert Choir, Treble Choir, and Orchestra performed their spring concert at Church of the Redeemer in New Haven. Through the concert, Hopkins musicians aimed to show the progress they have made this year in the Hopkins Arts Department as well as throughout their time at Hopkins.
The spring concert differentiates itself from the winter holiday concert through the types of music performed as well as the time spent working as an ensemble. Director of Instrumental Music and Arts Department Chair Robert Smith explained how “the flow of rehearsal is streamlined because of the change in group dynamics; we’ve all grown accustomed to each other.” Concert Choir has also become closer as an ensemble in their preparation for the spring concert; Concert and Treble Choir Conductor Erika Schroth said, “It really takes a semester for the group to learn how to sing together, and to become aware, as a group, of what is needed to get to the next level of performance and understanding. It also takes time to learn to trust each other, and that is one of the great gifts of singing together - we have to learn to lean on each other so that we can take individual risks that are essential to a vibrant and living performance of a piece of music.”
Becoming more accustomed to the group is especially true for the people who are new to each ensemble. Joanna Lu ’22 refected, “I think this term, a lot of people in the orchestra are much more comfort- able with each other, especially the freshmen. We’ve defnitely improved as musicians, and the music we play refects that.” Speaking to the difference in the types of music in the spring concert, Concert Choir co-president Katie Broun ’19 said, “Our repertoire included pop music, which Concert Choir only does in the spring.” She went on to explain that one of her favorite pieces from the spring concert was “‘Somebody to Love’ because it brings my journey in Hopkins Concert Choir full circle. The seniors in Concert Choir chose this piece for the spring concert because it was one we sang freshman year in choir.”
While it is not a pop piece, another popular song among concert choir was an arrangement of the spiritual “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” by Moses Hogan. Sam Brock ’21 said, “I believe that, out of all of our songs, it gives the most back when you put effort into it. We can make it sound so good just by being ‘into it’ and really thinking about our performance as we go.”
The focus Brock speaks of has been a crucial part of the semester for all of the ensembles. Concert Choir co-president Kenny Lu ’19 observed, “This year it feels like people are taking rehearsal more seriously. We’ve been really productive and I think each concert is better than the last.” This focus has been especially necessary when working on the hard pieces this term. Broun said, “We have worked hard not only to get the right notes and rhythms, but to create beautiful lines and contrasts in musicality.” The group’s performances have refected the hard work they have put into the music. Schroth reflected, “This year, I am particularly feeling the growth in confdence, and in tone and vocal maturity.”
In the Orchestra, hard work this term has been an important part of working on pieces such as “The Planets” by Gustav Holst. Smith described “The Planets” as being “vastly different from any piece we’ve ever played. The time sig- nature changes are challenging, the tempos are fast, the instrumentation is complex, and the tonal colors are stunning.” Concertmaster Alex Zhang has enjoyed playing “The Planets.” He said, “There’s nothing not to like about Jupiter. It’s unique, upbeat, has great melodies across the orchestra, and is super fun to play.”
The Treble Choir sang with the orchestra for part of “The Planets.” The Treble Choir is a new ensemble at Hopkins, featuring soprano and alto juniors and seniors. Broun is part of the Treble Choir as well, and commented on the difference between singing in the two groups; “Singing in more of a chamber ensemble style makes you a more independent musician and makes each person reliable for their work. I have appreciated the extra opportunity to sing a different type of music (both in part division and tone quality).” The spring concert was a way to show the progress the Orchestra, Concert Choir, and Treble Choir have made this year as the groups have worked on both the technicalities of pieces and the artistry of making music as a group. The concert was also an opportunity for the different groups to come together, demonstrating Smith’s comment- “Music brings us together in so many ways.”