On Friday, November 17th, North Central College’s Department of Music presented 2023’s Explore the Sound concert. Celebrating its fifteenth year, the concert showcased the Concert Choir, Chorale, and Chamber Singers and featured many pieces around the central theme: Night, Light, and Wonder. As in years past, the performers utilized every corner of Wentz Concert Hall, which showcased the beautiful acoustic environment, filling the room with sound. Conductor Ramona M. Wis led the groups in their exploration of sound, which followed a seamless flow between choral pieces and pieces from guest instrumentalists.
What is “Explore the Sound”?
The idea of “explore the sound” was born in 2008 after Wentz Concert Hall first opened, giving the department only days between its grand opening and the first departmental concert. Students and staff discovered the immense difference proper staging and acoustics made in giving each song its own flare and enhancing the overall performance. This exploration of the magnificent acoustic environment inspired the annual Explore the Sound Concert, where each year unique pieces are carefully staged to properly showcase the many different ways the space can be utilized. Explore the Sound stretches young artists outside of their comfort zone as they are forced to notice the intricacies of timbral qualities within the space. In recent years, the pieces selected focus largely on themes of social issues, diversity and equity, and global understanding. Now in 2023, with roughly one-third of North Central College’s singers being new to the choral program, the purpose of Explore the Sound is still extremely relevant to the department, offering a visual and sonic experience totally unique from other concerts.
Night, Light, and Wonder
This year’s show centered on the themes of: Night, Light, and Wonder. The exploration began with the theme “Night”, for which two secular pieces were selected. Continuing the journey, sacred and secular songs were chosen to represent “Light”. Christmas songs were then performed to reflect “Wonder”, with night and light still appearing as prominent themes.
Song of the night
The first piece, by Shawn Kirchner (b. 1970) was performed by North Central College’s Chorale
Written by composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, the Concert Choir performed this piece with a solo by Kayla Lockhart and a tuned water glass performance by: Shannon Blonski, Lily Danner, Ethan Dawson, Cameron Green, Heather Hellquist, Eugene Kalin, Nikki Kwilosz, Dana McAdam, Carson Moore, Fernando Padua, Gabriela Sorrentino, and Olivia Wegner
Chantez à Dieu
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), performed by the Chamber Singers
Sing, Wearing the Sky
by Jake Runestad, performed by Chorale, with a solo from Jan Bauers and accompaniment of Jon Warfel on piano and Daryl Silberman on violin
A traditional piece arranged by André Thomas performed by the Concert Choir with Cameron Green and David Lange on percussion
Mary, Did You Know?
by Mark Lowry and Buddy Green, arr. Craig Courtney, performed by the Chamber Singers with a solo from Spencer Avery and accompaniment of Bob Saul on piano
Alegría (from Carols and Lullabies of the Southwest)
Arr. Conrad Susa and performed by Chorale with a solo from Veronica Regelbrugge in a solo quartet with Kayla Martinez, Grace Shelly, Chloe Vasil, and an ensemble solo featuring Josette Falzone, Bella LaRocco, and Alex Ramirez. Accompanied by Jon Warfel on piano.