Members of the Upper School choir, Voce Novissima, Crimson 7, Oxfordians and Outlook took to the stage and displayed their vocals talent at the annual Choral Fest on Friday, May 4.
Preparations for the concert began very early on in the year. “For some of the pieces and songs, we began working in the fall, and for others we began working during the beginning of the second semester,” said Upper School Choir director David Baker. “It was really a year-long process. There were some very challenging pieces, so it helped to start early.”
Guest composer Robert Hughes came to the school for a period of a few days and led the students through three of his pieces. One of the pieces was “Kenyan melodies,” which is one the most popular and most-performed treble pieces in the United States today. Mr. Hughes went to Kenya in the late 80s and recorded several local songs, later deciding to combine them into one piece.
Mr. Baker said the other two pieces were also amazing. “The second song was ‘Sweet I Sing’ written in honor of another composer who had a great impact on Robert Hughes, and was performed by Outlook,” he said. “The piece included the piano and the Irish drum known as the boithun. It was great, especially for me, to work with him because he was my elementary school teacher, and I have been consistently in touch with him for a while. The last piece was a 19th century African American freedom song about slavery known as ‘Oh, Freedom.’” He said that all of the pieces worked very well with the choral theme of the year, which was “Freedom, Justice, Peace and Reconciliation.” The concert ended with a piece by a famous jazz pianist, called, “Hymn to Freedom.”
When asked about the students who performed, Mr. Baker said that there were quite a few students who stood out. “We honored all of our seniors, and we have 14 seniors, so that is quite a lot,” he said. “Senior David Marottolo has played many roles in the choral program at KO and has been our composer for the year. Senior Gabby Rusconi had a solo that she did amazing things with, and in our Bollywood-influenced performance of Baleilakka, junior Dan Carroll and freshman Snehaa Ram did a spectacular job.”
The piece was very well-received by the audience. “I think the audience had a great time, and they were stunned by how much music we had,” Mr. Baker said. “We had groups this year that could handle a lot and wanted to, and I had a lot of people tell me that there was great diversity in music. We showed a lot of grit in the new music and I’m proud of all the students for their hard work.”