Four choral groups perform songs from around the world in winter concert


Zachary Hoffman

Cantilena members Karli Sharp (12), Marina Logue (12), Meghna Phalke (12), Hannah Eckert (12) and Tasha Moorjani (11) sing at the winter concert. The program included Cantilena, Camerata, Bel Canto and SUS4.

by Zachary Hoffman, TALON Reporter

Tambourines shake in hand and piano plays in the background; the voices of Harker’s choirs ring inside the theater.

The Winter Concert featured performances by Bel Canto, Camerata, Cantilena and SUS4 at the annual non-ticketed event in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m.

The theme for this year’s performance was “Music: Our Common Heritage.” Vocal music teachers Susan Nace and Jennifer Sandusky, the directors of the show, created a program to incorporate songs from South Africa, Tanzania, Ireland, Cuba, France, Spain, Native American culture and India.

“Especially at Harker, with a fairly diverse community, it is important to include the diversity of music, especially since music around the world is just so beautiful,” Cantilena member Meghna Phalke (12) said. “A lot of people don’t sing it, unless the music is French or Italian, so I thought it was so cool we incorporated music from other countries, not just American and European ones.”

Each of the groups rehearsed their set pieces throughout the first semester, with some songs also performed for other school functions. The Fall Choral Concert was the first time Cantilena performed on stage this year.

“Performing with Cantilena has been one of my favorite parts of the school year and going to Harker: it’s a really great community and a really great sisterhood as well,” Sana Pandey (11) said.

Performing with Cantilena has been one of my favorite parts of the school year and going to Harker: it’s a really great community and a really great sisterhood as well.”

— Sana Pandey (11)

Since Cantilena will also perform at Synopsys, the group wanted to find a song that also fit its theme of “Environment.”

“I am a huge Bollywood fan, and it was because of my recommendation that we chose ‘Barso Re,’” Sana said. “It’s one of my favorite songs growing up, and it means a lot to me specifically because I learned how to sing to this song, essentially. I am really glad we got to do it this year and we got to add our own Cantilena twist to it.”

Of those performing is the student-run singing group previously known as Guys’ Gig. Now called SUS4, named after a chord commonly used in folk music, the group is no longer exclusive to male singers.

“At first I was a little apprehensive about joining [SUS4] because the group has always been a tenor-bass based choir,” Abbie Blenko (10), one of two girls to join SUS4 this year said. “Since I’ve joined, it’s actually been really cool having a couple of treble voices in there. It creates this really cool shimmering sound; it’s really nice, it’s really fun.

Abbie, who was self-admittedly nervous, most looked forward to singing “Danny Boy,” a traditional Irish song popular among acapella groups.

“It has a lot of really nice harmony. Even though it is a bit nerve-racking because I have a solo in it, it’s still a really exciting tune,” she said.

Bel Canto, the group usually filled by underclassmen, added an auxiliary ensemble this year called “Bel Canto, Too.” This second choir works as a subsection of the larger group: those who are on their second year in Bel Canto. They perform more difficult arrangements and have their own section in the program.

“Bel Canto, Too does a harder piece called ‘Juramento,’ and it is a Cuban piece,” Calais Poirson (10) said. “It is really challenging because there are only two or three people to a part, and there rhythms are difficult.”

The larger group of Bel Canto most enjoyed sharing “River Song”: a piece performed alongside members from the orchestra.

“It sounds so pretty and overwhelming – I really love it,” Calais said.

Camerata also saw changes this year: a reduction in numbers and loss of its male members. The group performed three songs that challenged its members to fill the parts with a smaller group.

“I was a little nervous for [this year’s small group] because it is a little more challenging that way, but it’s been really fun,” Abbie, who is also a member of Camerata, said. “I really like hanging out with everybody in the group, and Ms. Nace has been working on improving our voices and challenging us musically.”

After a semester of hard work, members of each group spent the afternoon and evening listening to each other rehearse and perform for the actual show.

“We don’t usually get to hear the other choirs and watch them and then go up and sing what we have been working on all semester,” Meghna said. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world to sing what you love the most for the people you love the most. It went really well, and it sounds amazing in the RPAC. With the shell they put up, the acoustics are fabulous, so it was really, really fun, and it went well.”