Allegheny College Choirs return to indoor concerts

The Allegheny College Choirs held their annual spring concert in Raymond P. Shafer Auditorium on April 30, which included performances from the Allegheny women’s, men’s and college choirs.
While many genres of music were represented through the performance of Estonian chants and Brazilian samba, the show also represented the resiliency of the choirs.
“It was a journey because of the COVID outbreak at the start of the week,” Luis Mendoza, ’22, said. “It was stressful. Everybody started to go get tested because of all the contact tracing and I would go to rehearsal and just think, ‘I really hope everyone shows up.’”

The all-college choir performs during their annual spring concert on April 30.

This is not the first time that the choirs have had to deal with the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic. Rehearsals were conducted via Zoom last year as choir members attempted to harmonize in breakout rooms or by layering isolated vocals, neither of which have been missed this year.
“It has been amazing this year because last year was all on Zoom,” Mendoza said. “I’ve been so grateful that we’ve been able to go back to the choir room and be in person again because I’d missed the social aspect of singing. Being back in the choir room is so fun because I get to hear my friends’ voices and I love getting to hear my friends sing.”
However, after enjoying two semesters of in-person rehearsals, the choirs’ spring concert was put in jeopardy when the recent campus outbreak began.
“Right before the performance about three or four people tested positive and were unable to take part in it,” Madison Boring, ’25, said. “We weren’t sure how many people they were going to let test positive before canceling the concert so I’m glad we still ended up being able to do it.”
For many students, it felt like a marathon to get to Friday without testing positive.
“I remember testing on Friday and just thinking ‘I made it to the concert!’ when I got my negative result,” Mendoza said.
While the uncertainty of the week leading up to the performance made the show harder to take for granted, the occasion was especially monumental for the graduating choir members.
“We recognized the seniors that are graduating and it was kind of a bittersweet highlight of the concert,” Boring said. “I’ve gotten very close with a lot of them but they were also really excited and energetic about doing their last show.”
That bittersweet feeling was felt by non-seniors and seniors alike as they sang together for the last time as a choir.
“We sang a song called ‘Mis on Inimene,’ which was my favorite piece we performed,” Mendoza said. “During the concert that song actually had me crying while I was singing because it was my last concert. The song is about what it means to be human and what it means to care for each other and it’s just a really serene and beautiful piece.”

After the concert, Profesor and Chair of the Music Department James Niblock followed the choir outside and conducted their rendition of the alma mater from atop a dunk tank.

The music was not the only thing beautiful about the afternoon as the usual overcast Meadville skies parted to allow for some sunny weather. The choir took advantage and moved the show outside to the Gator Quad where they found a dunk tank left up from a fraternity event.
“The weather was so nice that we actually went out on the quad and our choir director conducted the Alma Mater from the dunk tank,” Mendoza said.
Although choir is an important and fulfilling commitment for many choir members, it is often not the only extracurricular activity on students’ plates.
For Isabella James, ’24, the choir performance took place in the middle of a weekend of acting in the Playshop Theatre’s production of “She Kills Monsters.” James not only played the part of two different speaking characters in the show but she also plays saxophone in the Allegheny Jazz Band and sings in the Women’s Ensemble.
Finding time for all these commitments has been challenging yet manageable thanks to the flexibility of each department.
“Both the directors — our choir director (Niblock) and kt (shorb), the Playshop director — they were both very understanding,” James said. “I’ve always liked to sing and act and be involved in lots of things but it was different in high school because my choir and band director were married so things worked out easily. Even when things were stressful this year though everyone was really understanding and it seemed like because it was music and the arts, everyone involved was supportive of me doing both.”
As many choir students can attest, their decision to get involved with choir in college has been rewarding within itself and also helped open them up to new opportunities.
“I definitely think more people should do choir especially because I don’t think most people know you can get class credit for it,” Boring said. “You get to meet people and it’s helped me get out of my shell really fast. Choir is the only thing that I knew I wanted to take part in and I met so many people that introduced me to other things.”
For those interested in joining or at least hearing the choir, there is one more performance before the end of the academic year. On May 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Ford Chapel, a select group of choir members will be acting and singing opera scenes. Admission is free to students and masks will be required for the duration of the performance.