The Cornell University Glee Club hosted high school students for a day of clinics on Saturday that culminated in a Sage Chapel concert featuring sacred music in a variety of languages and a commissioned piece, “Kanpe La,” by composer Sydney Guillaume.
The Glee Club originally commissioned Guillaume to write the work in 2016. Using a poem written by his father, Gabriel, Guillaume’s work attempts to respond to gun violence, police brutality, oppression and political turmoil in both his native Haiti and the United States. Other pieces in Saturday’s repertoire included Latin and English sacred music.
Rayvon T. J. Moore, assistant professor of music and director of choral studies at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, served as the guest conductor for this performance on invitation from Prof. Joe Lerangis, music, who is also the director of choral music.
“I’ve been working on this music for about a week. I know that some of the other singers have had it for at least a couple of months, to get at least some of the notes and rhythms learned in preparation for this exciting day,” Moore said. “I was just actually telling all of the musicians that the best thing about clinicking and working with choirs and being a guest is that you’re collaborating with folks that you don’t know, and your common language is the music.”
Four of the concert’s pieces also featured visiting high school singers from New York City participating in the New York Lower Voices Sing program. Moore also served as the guest clinician for this event, working with the Glee Club and the visiting high schoolers as if they were one large choir.
Jason Ling ’23, this year’s Glee Club president, said he enjoyed working with the outreach program.
“I always like NYLVS. The purpose of it is to be this outreach program and to encourage tenors and basses — who largely identify as men — to continue singing in high school and later on in their life, because for some reason there’s a big dropoff once people start college,” Ling said.
Ling also promoted the club’s upcoming events, including Empowerment through Music on March 4 and a collaboration with the Cornell Symphony Orchestra to perform Mozart’s Requiem on April 29.
Hired as a tenure-track professor in September, Lerangis emphasized the effect that music can have on musicians and audience members alike.
“Our audiences are essentially our biggest stakeholders, in that people come into a performance like this to be moved and to think something different or to feel something different,” Lerangis said.” “That’s all that we can really hope to provide, [which] is a moving performance — something that makes somebody take pause in their day and connect with each other.”
Moore reiterated Lerangis’ sentiment regarding the social role that he believes these performances provide.
“The role of any music is to speak to the hearts and minds of those who are listening, for whatever mood that’s in,” Moore said. “Sometimes it’s a mood for working out, sometimes it’s a mood for being contemplative, sometimes it’s a mood of feeling enraged and angry and sometimes it’s a mood and a message of love, hope, togetherness and faith in each other. That’s really the goal of why I do this, which is to bring people together.”