Barry McNamara  |  Published April 27, 2022

100 Voices

Monmouth College vocal groups and community chorus to join for special April 30 concert in Galesburg of Faure and Bernstein.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – More than 100 singers will perform together when musical talent from Monmouth and Galesburg join forces for a special concert event.

CENTRAL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH: Featuring phenomenal acoustics, the building on the so... CENTRAL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH: Featuring "phenomenal" acoustics, the building on the southwest quadrant of Galesburg's Public Square will be the site of an April 30 concert.Two Monmouth College vocal ensembles – the Chorale and the Concert Choir – and the Galesburg Community Chorus will combine with members of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony to perform Gabriel Faure’s Requiem and Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms at 7:30 p.m. April 30 at the Central Congregational Church, 60 Public Square, Galesburg.

Tickets, which may be purchased at the door, are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors. Students will be admitted free of charge.

“Not only is the church beautiful, it’s a gorgeous space,” said Monmouth music professor Tim Pahel, who directs both the Chorale and the Galesburg Community Chorus. “It’s one of the bigger churches in town and seats between 700 and 800 people. And the acoustics are phenomenal. For choirs, it’s one of the best acoustical spaces in the area, especially if you’re at least 10 rows back from the choir. There’s this great halo around the sound.”

Pahel said the two selections that will be performed are on opposite ends of the choral-orchestral repertoire.

“Both are great classics but really different from each other. It’s a big contrast between the two,” he said. “Leonard Bernstein, of course, was the West Side Story composer, so there’s a really big jazz influence and 20th-century harmonies. … Then Faure is much more calm and beautiful, with rich orchestration. It’s been one of my favorite pieces of choral music forever. There are a few moments of drama and darkness, but a lot of it is calm, beautiful, spiritual – just gorgeous melody after gorgeous melody.”

“The acoustics are phenomenal. For choirs, it’s one of the best acoustical spaces in the area, especially if you’re at least 10 rows back from the choir. There’s this great halo around the sound.” Tim Pahel

Pahel appreciated Faure’s work for another reason: he was able to teach it to his singers in a short amount of time.

“Sometimes the great choral-orchestral music is really virtuosic and very difficult to put together for a group of amateur singers, but the Faure Requiem is not incredibly hard,” said Pahel, who began working with his students on the two choral orchestral pieces in the second half of March. “It’s beautiful music that we could learn relatively quickly.”

The Chorale spent the first half of the semester preparing the selections it would sing on its spring break tour of Chicago, so Pahel was also looking for material that was “not insurmountably difficult” to learn.

Learning the Bernstein is a little more challenging.

“It’s Biblical psalm texts, but in Hebrew,” said Pahel. “That’s one of the challenges of learning this music. It’s fast, rhythmic, dissonant, high, plus in Hebrew.”

Pahel has enjoyed merging the talents of his Monmouth College singers with performers from Galesburg and Knox College in the past. This is the first time that the Concert Choir, directed by Monmouth music faculty member Tom Clark, is part of the collaboration.

“We had a pretty regular schedule of every two years, the Knox choir and the Monmouth Chorale and the Community Chorus would combine for bigger works,” said Pahel. “We did that pretty regularly. The 2021 concert didn’t happen because of the pandemic. The Knox choir is not participating this time, so we’re planning another collaboration with them next spring.”

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