Flame and Fury
If you were near the Davidson College campus Sunday evening you likely saw tuxedos, black outfits, and some people carrying musical instruments. The tuxedos might have made you think of the high school Prom Season that is in full swing, but the tubas and basses probably made you do a double take.
More than 170 singers representing three different vocal groups and more than 40 professional musicians with Pro Arte Orchestra combined their talents to perform in this year’s annual choral masterworks – the series entitled Flame and Fury!
The Prologue from Italian composer Boito’s Mefistofele was followed by English composer William Walton’s iconic work, Belshazzar’s Feast. The collaborative musical feat was the culmination of an eventful and successful year in the Music Department and an exciting way to close out the school year with a bang.
Davidson graduate Patrick Scully (’12), bass, performed the solo elements of the concert. A Theatre major at Davidson, Scully is in the second year of a Masters of Music at Northwestern University.
Christopher Gilliam, who directed the performance, is the Director of the Davidson College Chorale and the Chorale Arts Society of Davidson. He said that “one of the most important parts of the evening was that the students had the opportunity to experience these major works with a professional orchestra.”
Gilliam also highlighted that students benefitted from the collaborative effort of singing with members of the community – especially those who had performed major works like these.
In an interesting twist, the singers and musicians did not practice together for most of their rehearsals. Members of the Davidson Choral Arts Society have been working on this performance since January. In fact, they have been practicing two hours a week, every week for the past four months.
Jane Cain, Director of Music at Davidson College Presbyterian Church, was one of more than a dozen altos in the Choral Arts Society of Davidson. She said that “it was thrilling to sing with a huge professional orchestra,” and that result was “amazing sound” at Sunday night’s performance.
Gilliam said that Flame and Fury was taxing and laborious for singers, and in fact, he described it as “the most challenging concert that we have every sung – to date.” In the end, “we got out of the way, and let the music speak.”
Prior to the performance, DavidsonLearns sponsored reception with light refreshments and a lecture by Tara Villa Keith, director of the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra in the C. Shaw Smith 900 room.