Fourth Estate/Alexis McCaffrey


This concert was kicked off by “All-Night Vigil” by Rachmaninoff, with the combined University Chorale and University Chamber performing. Their skillful impression of a mystical echo was impressive, and the moments of sorrow, and wistful tragedy, struck a chord.

The GMU Chamber performed several renditions. Their “Laudate Pueri Dominum” by Mozart was very well done and evoked a sensation of being chased by the spirit of God. The Chamber skillfully creates the acoustic effect of a church using only their voices. The urgency of religious emotion is woven throughout the piece and adds a unique element.

The other piece by the Chamber that was especially catching was (Goodnight Moon) by Whitacre. The melody and harmonies went together perfectly, creating the sensation of a bedsite fairytale, elevated by being voiced with the grace, skill, and number of a whole university Chamber. (Goodnight Moon) was conducted by student conductor Kendra Callahan. The singers had an excellently refined control of their pitch, and clarity in the notes.

Three high school choirs performed as guests; West Potomac High School with an enrapturing performance with enthused passion, Heritage High School with skilled control over their use of volume and tone, and Loudoun County High School’s control over their speed, and creative performance of a musical piece not initially designed for voice.

The George Mason University Chorale’s performances relied more on creative atmospheres and were well done, as well. Their larger roster puts them at an advantage for more complex sounds, which I feel were used well for more creative expressions of sound. In particular, Lakeside Lullaby by Naverud evoked that same feeling that one feels, walking along a beach with a chill in the air; high praise, and deserved; transportive. On the other hand, Wise’s Shine the Light had a fun tempo, and the chorale demonstrated well their skill with speed control.

The concert ended with the chorale, the chamber, and the high school guests all performing together; an excellent end to the performance. The first of two pieces were “Iam sol Recedit” by Gjelo, and its unbroken sound and atmosphere were transportive and beautiful. “Unclouded Day” by Kirchner was like soaring. The song was very moving and used its varied voices well to give it a character of the true human passion for existence. I had this stuck in my head for several minutes afterward. It that xcellent volume control and the control over changes in volume complemented the score perfectly and the tune was capturing. 

Dr. Billingham, the conductor, provided a statement. “It was wonderful to invite local high schools once again to our CFA stage. The Mason Choirs were very excited to perform in mass choir and to have the opportunity to meet and inspire young singers from the area. As a conductor, it was inspiring to see the growth of Mason students in the first concert of the season.”