by Meme Greene / Lion Staff
Three years ago, choral directors Jerry and Deborah Ulrich introduced the Upper School Choral Showcase, a performance new to the Lovett Fine Arts Program. According to Dr. Ulrich, it began in the Middle School about five or six years ago, but was soon adopted by the Upper School.
The rehearsal process for this year’s performance was more condensed than other years. “It has been a busy year for the Lovett Singers,” stated Doc. Right after the Upper School Musical Peter Pan, the chorus compressed quick rehearsals before their trip to New York City, where they performed at a church service and sang with The Trinity School, a private K-12 school in the Upper West Side. The Singers also performed for former President Jimmy Carter when he spoke at an all-school chapel, as well as at the Father Son Banquet.
Following the New York trip, the Singers jumped into Vivaldi's Gloria, a combined piece with the Singers and the orchestra. “This was the first time we had ever done a piece with both chorus and orchestra here in the last 10 years,” said Doc.
Immediately after the Gloria was over, the Singers had less than 3 weeks to put the showcase together. “No downtime, no pause,” said Doc.
Sophomore Caroline McPherson who is a member of the Lovett Singers describes this year’s rehearsals as intense. “I’m not going to lie, it was really hard,” she said. Sally Vaughn, also a sophomore member of the Lovett Singers, felt as if there was not enough time for rehearsal, but the performance turned out really well.
Another member of Singers, Cory Riley, explained that rehearsals are hard at times because the Ulrichs push you a lot. “It gets pretty crazy,” Cory said. “In the end, they are just trying to get us to learn the piece, even if we don’t agree with it.“
For Michael Panos, a member of the Men’s Chorus, the rehearsal process was rewarding and fulfilling, and ultimately prepared them for the performance.
The theme of this year’s recital was Love. “The theme of love is broad, and it encompasses different aspects,” explained Doc. “Music is one vehicle where love finds expression, and there are so many different aspects of it that I felt like it was a topic that had a lot of different narratives spin out of it.”
Including songs such as Desperado, I Dreamed a Dream, and an acapella version of Build Me Up Buttercup, the program covered many different genres Over the years, Doc said that the repertoire is what has changed most about their choral program.
Sophomore Brooke Preisinger enjoyed how Doc chose newer songs for the choirs to sing because they were more fun to sing.
Dr. Ulrich knows that some might wonder what South African freedom songs have to do with love, but he thinks there are many connections. “It was through the music of the freedom songs that the South African people were liberated from oppression,” he said. “Love is not simply what we think of ‘I love you’, but it is a much broader perspective.”
Doc also explained the notion of Desperado, which is that you are loving but you’re looking for love in the wrong places. He continued to elaborate on the complex theme of love, stating that there is love in I Dreamed A Dream, which is the idealistic version of love that didn’t work out as planned.
“My favorite part of the performance was singing our songs,” said Michael. His favorite songs were Seven Bridges Road and Desperado. “It was great to see that everyone liked these songs since we worked so hard on them.”
Cory enjoyed singing Build Me Up Buttercup. “We were really good at it. I know some people didn’t like it, but I really enjoyed singing it,” he said.
Dr. Ulrich was very passionate about this year’s theme, and offered great wisdom and advice about love. “As humans, we envision love as perfect, but once you get into it and get your heart broken, you realize that love has pain involved in it too. Love is a risk,” said Doc. “You have to risk to love. The more you risk, the more you stand to lose.”
Not only do the songs sung in the recital represent this, but Doc refers back to the classic Beatles song Abbey Road: “I’m reminded of the line, ‘And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make’, meaning that what you put in is what you get out. The more you open yourself up to a relationship, the more you stand to lose, but the more you stand to gain.”
Along with the repertoire performed by the ensemble, the performance included a few solos and duets. Anyone in Women’s, Men’s, and Singers could audition for these numbers. “I really liked getting to hear people sing who you don’t usually get to hear,” said Caroline McPherson.
The interested participants worked with Robert Ray, a former Broadway performer, who is talented in choosing songs that fit each person’s voice perfectly.
“The process was pretty practical. We held ‘blind auditions’ where Mr. Freer, Mrs. Ulrich, and I turned our backs as each number was performed,” explained Doc. “I thought I was going to be able to tell who was singing, but I honestly couldn’t. This process helped us choose based on the sound of a person’s voice rather than what we knew of them personally.”
Caroline, who was one of the soloists really enjoyed the recent concert and getting to sing a solo. “It’s just fun,” she said, when asked about her performance.
According to every student that I interviewed, they thought their concert, as well as the work they did this year, turned out well. Although Dr. Ulrich described the rehearsal process as “condensed,” the Spring Showcase was a flawless performance, mainly in thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Ulrich.
And there are the less obvious rewards.
“Chorus gives me the opportunity to make friends in all different grades on top of being a lot of fun,” said sophomore Sally Vaughn.