Schubert, Poulenc, And Jazz Mass

Olivia Vaz '15

April was a very busy month for the Chorus.  On April 13, the Chorus joined forces with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra for a performance of Francis Poulenc’s Litanies à la Vierge Noire with the talented Annette Richards at the organ, and the Schubert’s Mass No. 4 in C Major, D. 452, Op 48, with the Glee Club.  All of it was under the direction of Lanfranco Marcelletti.  Mr. Marcelletti had worked with the Chorus and Glee Club three years ago, so the seniors remembered him, and their praises of him beforehand were well met.  He was a joy to work with and wonderfully conveyed to us what exactly he wanted from us—although I will admit, at some points he got so excited, I swear I thought he was going to end up standing on the organ.  The Poulenc piece was a challenging piece for many, as it was in French and many, myself included, are not remotely knowledgeable of the French language. But through hard work and dedication, it was pulled off magnificently. 

The Mass was another experience.  The Poulenc was sung in the back from the choir loft, while the Mass was sung on risers in the front of the chapel. With a full orchestra and choir, the sound was breathtaking and well received as the closing piece of the performance.  Standing at the front of Sage chapel, surrounded by the wonderful people who have become my family through the past year, was simply an experience that took my breath away, and will continue to occur every time I am singing with these wonderful groups.

Just a week later in Bailey Hall, the Chorus, as well as the Glee Club, performed Wolfgang Knittel’s Jazz Mass, as a part of the 22nd annual Cornell Jazz Festival, under the direction of Paul Merrill, the Cornell Director of Jazz Ensembles, and John White with the Jazz Mass Festival Big Band.  The atmosphere was a bit more relaxed than the Schubert Mass, but that doesn’t mean that it was easy for the singers.  It’s a piece different from straight choral sounds of our last few performances.  I personally had never sung any real jazz, especially never with such a fantastic ensemble of singers and instrumentalists.

Still, the excitement was palpable as we prepared to sing about “boogieing with the Lord” and protecting endangered species, such as the Loch Ness Monster.  To show the spirit of the night, the black bow ties normally worn by the gentlemen were discarded for colorful, patterned bow ties, and the ladies accessorized with bright colors.  And when the time did come to perform the piece, we did indeed “worship with music and dance,” as many were bopping along with the music.