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Performers sing the sound of spring

Conductor James Calhoun works through warm up exercises with the Chamber Singers and University Chorale before the start of the Spring Choral Concert in Morgan Auditorium May 11. The performance featured passionate renditions of songs by Mozart and Stevie Wonder, among others. / photo by Zachary Horton

Mariela Patron
Staff Writer

University of La Verne choral and chamber singers came together and sang classical, spiritual and pop culture tunes in an uplifting spring concert May 11 in Morgan Auditorium.

The chamber singers began the concert at the back of the auditorium with flawless harmonies in the Renaissance song “April Is In My Mistress’ Face” by Thomas Morley.

“Our choirs have worked hard in this very eclectic program,” conductor James Calhoun said.

The chorale joined the seven chamber singers on stage in the Henry Purcell song, “If Music Be the Food of Love.”

“I just love performing,” freshman music major, Vicky Campos said. “My favorite song was ‘If Music Be the Food of Love’ because music is the food of love.”

The singers performed the song majestically and made the auditorium seem like a chapel.

In the melancholic song “How Can I Keep from Singing,” Marissa Honda, a USC graduate student studying music performance, played the oboe with Calhoun on piano.

Honda played with full sound and responded with the singers.

“I loved the spirit of the music,” University chaplain, Zandra Wagoner said. “I loved the oboe, it made me cry.”

The chorale then performed a Sephardic folk song, “Adijo, Kerida,” which translates to “Farewell, Beloved,” started dark but soon changed into a light tune with a Spanish-influenced melody.

Calhoun said that the chorale was recently able to perform with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and learned about traditional Sephardic Jewish music.

Next the chorale began singing Negro spirituals with “I’m Gonna Sing ‘Til the Spirit Moves In My Heart” that began with a solo by Joel Brown.

The choir hummed and made it seem as if a train was passing through the room.

Towards the end, Calhoun progressively sped up his conducting and the singers followed by getting louder and building suspense by repeatedly singing “‘till my Jesus.”

Glenn Jones, arranger of the spiritual “My Soul’s Been Anchored in de Lord,” was able to work with the choir.

The song featured three sopranos: biology major Lauren Medina, junior liberal studies major Justeen Montelongo and freshman environmental biology major Jami Newcomer.

The sopranos were able to pull through the ending of the song where they harmonized together and sang extremely high notes.

The final spiritual song, “Nothin’ Gonna Stumble My Feet,” included percussion by music department manager Steve Biondo, who gave the song an African beat.

“Not going to stumble my feet no matter what everyone else does,” Calhoun said.

For the final two songs, Calhoun encouraged the audience to join in and clap.

The audience began to tap their feet and bob their heads as soon as the first notes of “Sir Duke,” by Stevie Wonder began to play with freshman biology major David Vorobyov on bass.

The concert concluded with an emotional and inspirational rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel.

There was a connection between the audience and the performers as both groups clapped in time with the song.

“It felt wonderful, it was a great energy,” Campos said. “Everyone was having fun and that is what music is for.”

Mariela Patron can be reached at

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