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Concert celebrates the spring season

Charles Kamm conducts the Chamber Choir of the Claremont Colleges last Friday in the Balch Auditorium. Kamm has served as the Claremont Concert Choir conductor for the Joint Music Program since 2005. A tenor and countertenor, Kamm has performed throughout the United States and recorded with professional choirs such as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir. / photo by Candice Salazar

Brenna Von Den Benken
Staff Writer

The Chamber Choir of Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer and Scripps Colleges put on a special spring show of madrigals, part songs and anthems for their Friday Noon Concert Series at 12:15 p.m. May 6 at Scripps College in Claremont.

Upon entering the stage, the Chamber Choir comprised of 23 students, conductor Charles W. Kamm and pianist Paul R. Bishop went straight to business and began the show immediately as the audience of a nearly-full auditorium welcomed them with loud applause.

No introduction was necessary as they opened with Claudio Monteverdi’s grand Italian song, “Quel augellin che canta,” which translates to “that little bird which sings.”

As a mix of soprano, alto, tenor and bass singers combined voices, Bishop struck passionately on the harpsichord throughout each song on the center of the stage.

“If you haven’t noticed, there is a theme of bird songs in our performances today,” Kamm said during a brief transition from one song to the next.

The opening song forecasted a recurring theme of spring with birds being the main subjects, which is presented in three other parts throughout the performance.

The aforementioned theme weaves itself through the pieces: Thomas Vautor’s “Sweet Suffolk Owl,” Ralph Vaughan William’s “The Turtle Dove” and in their concluding song, Clement Janequin’s “Les Chant des Oyseaux,” which translates from French to English as “the song of the birds.”

“It’s really impressive to hear these students sing in multiple languages, transitioning from Italian to English to French.” attendee Alexandrea Vizcarra said. “It just goes to show how beautiful diversity is.”

All of the songs sung by the Chamber Choir originate from earlier times, ranging between the late 1400s and early 1900s.

The rest of the concert included Henry Purcell’s “O God, Thou Art My God” and “Lord, How Long Wilt Thou Be Angry,” Gerald Finzi’s “My Spirit Sang All Day,” Joseph Gregorio’s “Set Me as a Seal,” Eric Whitacre’s “A Boy and a Girl” and Paul Sjolund’s “Love Lost.”

“The harpsichord was really something,” attendee Gregory Cole said. “It gave the performances a hint of medieval-renaissance flavor; I’m glad they used that instrument instead of a typical piano.”

Renaissance songs of joy, nature, enlightenment, praise and even dark times promoted a wide range of taste and moods for the audience.

The varying moods helped rile spectators as well as silence them when the cheery tone of the song transformed into a solemn one.

The Chamber Choir’s Friday Noon Concert Series special left an impression of spring celebration for audience members of all ages from children to adults and to the elders.

Brenna von den Benken can be reached at

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