With New Repertoire, Chorus Returns to Chapel


Dasha Post '23

Hotchkiss Chorus performs in Chapel.

To commemorate the changing of the seasons, the Hotchkiss Choir hosted With a Hey and a Ho: A Madrigal Journey in the Chapel for the school and surrounding community on Sunday, April 22. In the performance, four repertoires followed the
general theme of springtime and change, a stark difference from the choir’s last performance, Lessons & Carols, in December of 2021. The ensemble, rehearsing biweekly for four months, worked towards the goal of conveying their progress over the past few months and highlighting their versatile singing ability.

The first three repertoires — “English and Renaissance Madrigals,” “French Renaissance Madrigals,” and “20th Century Shakespeare Madrigals” — opened the performance with the underlying themes of springtime, love, happiness, and the melancholy feeling of an end of an era. Soprano Isabella Wei ’23 said, “This [music] is an entirely different experience than our last performance. Mr. Jack Brown, instructor in voice and Hotchkiss Choir conductor, has chosen great pieces that the entire ensemble appreciates and enjoys. He’s pushing especially hard this year to engage the audience as much as possible, especially after Covid has taken a lot of our community engagement from us. Although this isn’t the first time we’ve sung about springtime and love, the energy we’re conveying is so special and unique.”

To display the choir’s versatility, Mr. Brown chose a series of newer-age compositions to close off the performance whilst creating a contrast from their opening pieces. “Contemporary A Cappella ‘Madrigals’” showcased the ensemble’s ability to perform modern pieces, a large leap from the baroque style, religious songs of Lessons & Carols, thus providing the ensemble with a rare opportunity. Tenor Ben Herdeg ’23 said, “One of our greatest challenges was overcoming the hump of becoming familiar with some of our songs. We were used to 15th to late 17th century pieces because of Lessons & Carols, so there was a big adjustment from our last performance to this one. For example, “Wannabe,” one of our songs with a complicated arrangement, took us a little bit of time to become accustomed to, but once we got it, it sounded great! One of my biggest takeaways from these past few months is to definitely trust the process.”

Due to the entire performance being a cappella, Mr. Brown remained diligent and focused on pushing the ensemble to listen to themselves and one another while singing. He said, “These a capella pieces are very vulnerable and raw, especially in a place with such great acoustics like Chapel. Being [there] without an accompaniment, although a great step towards getting back to our pre-Covid performances, makes it very obvious when someone makes a mistake. Because of this, I’ve challenged my singers with the task of being attentive to their own singing, their choirmates, and especially me. Watching the conductor in any ensemble is a crucial part, and without that key component that maintains that togetherness, it’ll all fall apart.”

The Hotchkiss Choir will be performing a series of songs at the Baccalaureate Ceremony to celebrate the moving on of the Class of 2022 and their accomplishments. To watch the ensemble perform for the final time this school year, attend the Baccalaureate in early June.