The Manhattan College chapel was full of music this past Sunday, Apr. 23, as the annual Spring Performing Arts Concert took place. Beginning at 4:30 pm, parents and classmates alike gathered in the pews to enjoy the music from students who’ve been preparing for this concert since Lessons and Carols last semester.
As more people entered the chapel, the sounds of strings warming up from the orchestra sitting at the front of the room echoed between the stained glass windows of Saint John Baptiste de la Salle. Andrew Bauer, the director of music and coordinator of performing arts, welcomed everyone to the concert and the Manhattones took to the stage.
Starting off their set, the Manhattones sang the popular hit song “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. Phoebe Torsilieri sang the first verse along with Erin Keating, who brought up the harmonies. Anna Occhino sang the second verse with Samantha Cunningham providing the harmonies. A new addition to Manhattones this semester is Dorian Persaud, who brought in his beatboxing talents during the chorus. Tommy Leo was the final soloist, singing the bridge with gusto.
For their second and final song, the Manhattones performed “Hallelujah” written by recently deceased songwriter Leonard Cohen. Persaud beatboxed again during the chorus. The harmonies sung by the sopranos echoed beautifully throughout the chapel. Occhino conducted the choir from the front of the chorus stands. As she signaled for the end of the song, thunderous applause broke out from the audience.
After a quick switch, the Manhattan College Orchestra began their set. Under the direction of Gwendolyn Toth, Ph.D., the ensemble went through their set of symphonies and suites. The word “orchestra” might conjure up the idea of solely violins and cellos but the entire performance group consists of violins, violas, cellos, one double bass, flutes, oboes, clarinets, one bassoon and French horns. The Clarinet Ensemble played the second song in the set, an almost Harry Potter-sounding tune from the opera Carmen titled “Les tringles des sistres tintaient”.
The show-stopper here was the orchestra’s performance of “The City” from Sunrise Mass which sounded as though it came directly from a movie. This was then followed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Symphony no. 40 in G minor” which contains four movements. All attention was on the orchestra as it played familiar themes from Mozart’s career at an attention-grabbing volume that filled the chapel. This symphony began at 4:56pm and ended at 5:34pm , each movement earning its own applause after completion.
Then, the orchestra teamed up with the Manhattan College Singers in a performance of Psalm 42 with the Singers performing the chorus titled “As the Hart Pants”. The two performing groups typically pair up for at least one song for a moving combination of instruments and voices.
The Singers soon had the stage to themselves. This was their first performance since being onstage down at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida during spring break back in Mar. of this year.
Dressed in their official green Singers polo, the choir sang songs they have been preparing for all semester out of their black songbooks. They began with “The Seal Lullaby” which is a song with lyrics by author Rudyard Kipling.
An incredibly moving song made popular by the band Queen and written by Freddie Mercury, “Somebody to Love” featured soloists Occhino and Leo, who do double-duty in both Manhattones and Singers. Members of the Pep Band provided music on drums, guitar and keyboard. This song was one from the set performed in Disney.
As a sneak preview into the upcoming Abbey Road concert, the students within the class gave a hint into what the course has been focusing on with a performance of “Because” by the Beatles. The Abbey Road concert is being held next weekend.
To wrap up the performance, the Singers showcased the other two songs in their set from Disney, the first of which is an adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili titled “Baba Yetu” featuring soloists Siobhan Noonan, David Cartolano and Occhino.
Finally, the Singers performed a medley of songs from the hit Broadway musical “Hairspray” featuring soloists Tara Ann Connor, Rachel Gundlach, Gabriella Herrera, Erica Rebussini, Robert Smith and Allison Terranova.
Students and parents danced along in their pews, bobbing back and forth with smiles on their faces. Each soloist played different characters from the musical, passing around the microphone to show off their singing talents.
The medley finished with the grand finale of the musical, “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, which is a fast-paced, extravagant medley that the Singers smashed out of the park. Parents and students alike were singing along throughout.
As the concert drew to a close, members of Singers, the Orchestra and Manhattones greeted their friends and family. The consensus was that the show had been a hit. Bauer thanked everyone for coming, inviting them back in December for their Lesson and Carols show, a special tradition of the college.
“We had a great year [in the performing arts department]. We did a lot of things, most recently a terrific musical, Legally Blonde, which was a great success. Singers recently completed a very success trip to Florida and did a concert in Disney Springs—they did a great job there. I wanted to mention how grateful I am that you’ve allowed your children to work with me, it’s been a great and fulfilling experience. In particular to the seniors that are graduating, it’s hard to see them go but I know they’re going to be very successful after this,” said Bauer, addressing the concert crowd.