Exhibiting Medieval and Baroque sacred music, the Schola Cantorum Franciscana performed a well-attended concert on the evening of April 13 in Christ the King Chapel, the first concert in its tour, “Christ My Hope Is Risen!”
The first of three performances within the month of April, the concert was in the spirit of Eastertide, exhibiting themes of the Resurrection and salvation.
The Schola, directed by Nicholas Will, a graduate of Duquesne University and the Peabody Conservatory of Music and professor at Franciscan, was accompanied by the visiting Academy Chamber Orchestra, which consisted of a violin, viola, cello and double bass arrangement. The orchestra was led by its director, Warren Davidson. An organ was also included in the evening’s program.
“I always enjoy having an orchestra accompany the Schola,” said member David Forrester.
The blend of both instrument and voice was mastered throughout the various songs of the night.
Divided into three separate parts, the program included Paschal hymns expressed in Latin, German and English. Filling the sanctuary with hymns of praise, the Schola was complemented by the addition of area microphones to enhance their projection throughout the church.
“The songs were selected for their messages,” explained sophomore Sarah Fesalbon, who is also a member of Schola at Franciscan. Christ’s death, his three days in hell to save souls and his glorious Resurrection were the central meaning of most of the songs, she further added.
Selections such as “Lobet den Herrn” and “Christ lag in Todesbanden” by Johann Sebastian Bach were among the many hymns of the night. Often switching from German to English and vice versa, the performance entranced those in attendance.
Throughout the evening’s duration were sections called “arias” reserved for a single person or couple. In the final composition, members Liz Tkacik and Matt Wagner sang a duet, combining the soprano and tenor voices. Mary Claire Morlino also performed a solo aria, which was well-received by those in attendance.
“It was so beautiful, as in real beauty!” exclaimed senior German major Rachel Blanchard. Being a German major, Blanchard said that it was much more meaningful to hear the songs in a language she studies, being “uplifted by the whole experience.”
Utilizing a seating arrangement similar to a crescent, members of the Schola were in a prime position for optimum projection and carry. With the crucified Christ depicted in the San Damiano cross above them, the theme and purpose of the concert was truly present.
Two separate musical arrangements of the organ by students Zacchaeus Lock and Luke Ponce, who performed a solo aria himself, were included in the concert’s program. The string instruments also gave another short solo performance.
Franciscan was only the first of three stops in the tour. The Schola Cantorum Franciscana also performed the same concert April 14 in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, and will again perform on April 20 in Cleveland.