April 17, 2003

Bel Canto

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What happens when you get a ton of women together, raising their voices in song? No, I’m not talking about Lilith Fair. I’m referring to last Sunday’s music extravaganza of Soprano and Alto music, dubbed Treblefest. In this, their first attempt at staging a spring festival of treble music, the Cornell University Chorus, and two visiting choirs, performed a delightful afternoon concert for a sparse, though highly appreciative audience of music-goers. The crowd, scattered about Sage Chapel, heard also from the Young People’s Chorus of New York as well as from the Mount Holyoke Concert Choir.

The ladies of Cornell opened with two beautiful Madrigals. One was from the 16th century, and the other by Glee Club alumnus William Cowdery. The group produced a wonderful, well-balanced sound, partly due to their mixed arrangement, but mostly by the influence of Interim Conductor Beth Burrier-Bradstreet. She then guided the women through all five challenging movements of Poulenc’s Petites Viox. Despite some difficult key changes and rigorous French text, they got through it, and were daring enough to sing it memorized. Amazingly, the Chorus had only begun working on the Poulenc a few weeks earlier. One member, Sarah Burger said, “It’s going to be even better for our Senior Week concert.” The group finished with four more pieces, the final three of which were Cornell Songs. Though everyone stood for the Alma Mater, as is customary, what truly brought the crowd to their feet was The Young People’s Chorus of New York, also known as YPC.

Of the group’s four ensembles, the audience was serenaded by their Concert Choir, conducted by Francisco J. N