CSU choirs and orchestra combine for double feature

The Griffin Concert Hall welcomed two groups to its stage on March 3. The first, a combined group featuring the Colorado State University Concert Choir and the CSU Concert Orchestra, presented “Vivaldi’s Gloria” for the first part of the concert. The twelve-movement piece allowed for both ensembles to feature different sections and soloists. Part I of the concert began with a lively orchestra introduction, fading into a minor key for the following movements and kicking back up about halfway through. Soloists stood at the front of the stage to let their vibrato ring through the hall, while the small orchestra initiated call-and-response melodies with the large vocal ensemble.

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The CSU Concert Choir and Concert Orchestra combined for a special collaboration. Photo credit: Mckenzie Moore

Liesl Bryant, soprano and graduate teaching assistant, sang a featured solo during the sixth movement.


“I spent a lot of time in the practice room working on individual music,” Bryant said. “Then I rehearsed with each group three times a week, both in sectionals and in large groups.”

Bryant says her extensive history in choirs contributed to her musicality at the concert.

“Each choir I’ve been in offered something new and different, and I use those skills in the choirs here because the diverse repertoire is very challenging,” Bryant said. “It’s definitely been a good experience to build relationships with peers in the choir, as well as building a group trust with conducting.”

Bryant sang with both choirs, remaining on stage for Part II: “Ariel Songs.” The second half of the concert featured a more diverse array of composers and arrangers, including a four-movement piece from Shakespeare’s “Tempest,” which inspired the name for the Chamber Choir’s performance. The smaller group changed positions on the risers to better accentuate the performer’s vocal ranges. Each song allowed for features from each voice, creating multiple counter-melodies that bounced off each other. The soft and delicate timbre of the group created a melancholy mood with predominantly minor keys. The group concluded the concert with “Let Me Fly,” a lively and upbeat song arranged by Robert Decormier. The audience gave the performance a standing ovation.

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The audience gave the CSU Chamber Choir a standing ovation at the end of the night's performance. Photo credit: Mckenzie Moore

According to a press release from the University Center for the Arts, the concert marked the fourth year of choir directors Ryan Olsen and James Kim collaborating for a double feature performance, but the addition of the CSU Concert Orchestra added “a special twist.”

“We started rehearsing a little bit last semester, but we really jumped in and got to work in January,” said director Ryan Olsen. “It was mostly trying to teach the students to sing in a Baroque style, and we only met with the orchestra three times before the concert. I think it really came together well.”

Olsen says he enjoys watching the group grow, both in size and quality, throughout his years as the choir director.

The two choirs presented two different performance styles, one with accompaniment and one acapella. The dynamic contrast and emotion packed into each song ultimately created an atmosphere of passion within the concert hall that left the audience on its feet.