Music of the North choir gives superb concert

Cordero Reid/Sun Star Reporter
November 13, 2012

Gwendolyn Braiser, mezzo-soprano (left) performs “Pie Jesu” accompanied by cellist Bryant Hopkins (right) on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. Pie Jesu is part of Requiem, Op. 9 by Maurice Duruflé, a French composer. Cordero Reid/Sun Star

Friday, Nov. 9, the Choir of the North performed several French music pieces in the Charles W. Davis Concert Hall. The performance was a special dedication to the late Dolores Heine who passed away at the end of September. Heine was an accompanist for the Choir of the North for most of the group performances in the 1980s.

The musical presentation was based off Maurice Duruflé’s “Requiem,” with special guest organist James Johnson. Johnson is an international composer who has played with the Royal Philharmonic in London and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

The choir began with “Four Motets” on Gregorian themes. “Ubi caritas,” with cantor was lead by faculty member and alto singer Leah Berman Willaims,“Tota pulchera es,” was lead by music student Rebecca File, “Tue es Petrus” was lead by tenor Charles Woodward and “Tandum ergo” with cantor was led by bass singer Dean Shannon. The motets were moving and the choir was well practiced and in sync at times. Conductor and Program Director Dr. John Hopkins visibly put much effort into producing a quality evening of music.

During the second act, the choir performed the “5th Symphony for Organ” by Charles-Marie Widor, “Prelude on an Anthem, No. 8″ by Jean Langlais and the finale of “First Symphony for Organ” by Louis Vierne.  At the beginning of this portion of the concert, Johnson sat down at the organ and performed the pieces with an electrifying and beautiful ease.

The final act of the night featured performances by the choir and Johnson. “Requiem, Op .9” by Maurice Duruflé is a wonderful piece that should be heard at least once in one’s lifetime. It is a symphony of haunting musical expertise that was crafted and well executed by the choir.

During the fifth piece “Pie Jesu” Gwendolyn Braiser, a mezzo-soprano and Bryant Hopkins performed the cello with the choir. Braiser’s voice and projection could be heard all the way to the back of the concert hall with clarity and Hopkins’ instrumentation was superb.

The concert was a great experience and their Christmas performance is eagerly anticipated. After, the audience exited the concert hall and filled the grand hall as the choir members met up with friends and family.

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