The Mary Baldwin Spring Choral Concert — featuring the Mary Baldwin University Choir, as well as Bella Voce and Baldwin Charm, the music department’s two a cappella ensembles — took place Tuesday night in First Presbyterian Church.
“Singing has always been a major part of my life,” said Kaitlin Evans ’17, “and the opportunity to be a part of this choir helps me break out of my quiet shell, and I absolutely love performing in front of people.”
The concert featured American composer Randall Thompson’s The Place of the Blest as the centerpiece of the program, which is an important work in the American choral repertoire. Thompson was from this area, working as a composer and conductor at the University of Virginia.
“I find it to be amazing, challenging, and very fun to sing,” said Hannah Haugen, a freshman from Fredericksburg. “It presented some challenges for us in terms of syncopation and odd time-signature changes, but it has made it all the more exciting to hear us, as a choir, mastering it.”
“I like that the songs are based off poems,” sophomore Moniefia Maitland said about Thomson’s piece. “I also like that they are slow enough to convince an audience of the meaning of the songs and that the songs are linked to one main character or one central theme.”
The Mary Baldwin Choir also performed works by Bob Leavitt and Z. Randall Stroope.
“I really enjoy working with the students of Mary Baldwin, due to their excitement and willingness to learn new, important works,” said Ryan Keebaugh, choir director.
Keebaugh has been praised for his expressive and sensitive conducting, and he is also an award-winning composer, whose works have been performed by members of the National Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as well as by choral groups throughout the United States, including the University of South Florida Chamber Singers and the Fresno State Concert Choir.
“I enjoy being a part of the Mary Baldwin Choir because not only is it a great experience vocally, but it also allows you to strengthen yourself in other areas, like sight reading,” said Taylor Young ’17. “Dr. Keebaugh makes every class wonderful, and a great place to be.”
Mali Grau adds, “I’ve been in choir since the 3rd grade, and I have to say this year has been the best year. Having a professor like Dr. Keebaugh is amazing. I have to say he is one of the best choir teachers I’ve ever had.”
Bella Voce presented a variety of works by Donato, Bortniansky, Brahms, and Dawson, along with a Sephardic folk song.
“Bella Voce offered a trip around the world with our program, singing in many different languages: Latin, Spanish, Church Slavonic, Zulu, and English. And each student seemed to have a different favorite piece,” said Linell Gray Moss, director of Bella Voce and member of the Mary Baldwin voice faculty.
Baldwin Charm, the college’s pop a cappella group, performed “Stand By Me” and Lorde’s “Royals,” along with “Hopeless Romantic,” a creative mash-up of Justin Timberlake’s “Blue Ocean Floor” and Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.”
“All of our selections for this concert were arranged by our two student directors, Tiara Bowling and Kyla Daniel,” said the ensemble’s director, Anne Wick, who also teaches voice at Mary Baldwin.