Upper school vocal ensembles celebrate nature in eco-music choral concert


Alysa Suleiman

All upper school choral performers finished last Friday’s concert with a closing song, Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run.” The concert, which was the ensembles’ senior night, honored senior vocalists after this final performance.

by Alysa Suleiman, Reporter

Colorful lights illuminate the wide stage as a flood of students briskly step to their places on the multi-leveled risers. With a precise flick of her hand, Susan Nace, upper school vocal teacher and director of Camerata, Cantilena and co-director of Bel Canto, begins to conduct “Turn the World Around”, the opening number. Voices harmonize through the clear acoustics of the Rothschild Performing Arts Center as electric blues, yellows, and magentas dapple the eager faces of the performers, signifying the beginning of Harker Upper School’s Choral Concert.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. and ending around 8:00 p.m., the Choral Concert featured the Harker’s upper school ensembles of Bel Canto, Sus4, Camerata, Cantilena and Downbeat. Upper school teachers Susan Nace, Laura Lang-Ree, K-12 Performing Arts Director, and Jennifer Sandusky, upper school vocal teacher and co-director of Bel Canto and Downbeat, organized the event and directed the groups’ practice sessions. The 20 different songs highlighted eco-music, songs that show appreciation for the environment and the preservation of nature.

Next, Bel Canto performed “Shir Hama’a lot”, a Hebrew song, and “Im Walde,” a German song. For their last piece, “Tjak!,” Bel Canto circled around each other and clapped and chanted as Austin Killam (10) stood in the center, chanting in a native language to replicate a monkey chant from the Hindu story Ramayana.

Student club Sus4 was the second group to perform this evening, performing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “When the Earth Stands Still” by Don Macdonald, and “In My Life” by Lennon McCartney.

Camerata and Cantilena performed songs such as “We Belong to the Earth” by J. David Moore and utilized instruments to replicate the sounds of flowing water, raindrops, rustling leaves and more. Each song highlighted multiple soloists, their voices echoing in time to the steady beat of a hand-played drum.

Cantilena also honored graduating student conductor Abigail Wisdom (12) as she conducted her fellow members through the notes of “Here comes the Sun” by George Harrison, receiving a standing ovation from the instrumentalists, teachers, and vocal groups.

Downbeat concluded the individual ensemble performances with renditions of songs Erika Lloyd’s “Cells Planets,” Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good,” YEBBA’s “Evergreen,” Little Mix’s Wings” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” as members moved in perfect formation while maintaining effortless movement, their intricate sequined costumes giving off brilliant flashes of gold.

Alysa Suleiman

As the last chords of the song rang out, Bel Canto joined Downbeat onstage for the final performance of the night: “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon.

As the upper school directors of the show walked out with bouquets of flowers in their arms, the graduating seniors were called forward to be honored and congratulated for their dedication to the Upper School’s performing arts department. Parents and friends in the audience cheered the performers on with a final applause to the as the lights slowly dimmed, signifying the end of Harker’s 2019 Choral Concert.