Patriot Singers In Free Concert Today At First Presbyterian Church
By STEWART SMITH
The UT Tyler Patriot Singers will render their voices to the heavens tonight as they hold their inaugural concert with their performance of "Sing Me to Heaven."
Conducted by Dr. Cameron Rose, the university's director of chorale activities, the program is an eclectic mix of pieces both classical and contemporary, including "Psallite, Unigenito" by Michael Praetorius and "If Ye Love Me" by Thomas Tallis, two Renaissance era composers, "Double, Double, Toil and Trouble" a Jaakko Mantyjarvi piece inspired by Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and even a chorale arrangement of Johnny Cash's "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Disparate as those selections may seem at first glance, Rose said he was looking to play on the themes present in the Halloween season with a balance of "light and dark," but in a somewhat fun manner.
"I wanted to explore the extremes between the heavenly music and the depths of the dark side a little bit," Rose said.
The trick, however, was finding legitimate pieces that were also summarily related to Halloween.
"There aren't a lot of good Halloween pieces. But there are a few that kind of fall into a spooky genre that are legitimate," Rose said. "'Double Double, Toil and Trouble' was just perfect. It's based on Shakespeare, which is even better, and it's a piece that in chorale world that has in recent years really taken off. … Plus, for my singers, it is challenging song. It's something they could really sink their teeth into."
His selections were also in an effort to keep his singers on their collective toes. The two Renaissance-era pieces are two of the more challenging selections due to structural complexities, as well as the lyrics being written in a foreign language.
"'If Ye Love Me' by Thomas Tallis (is) something of an anthem for chorales that many of them do as their final number. It's a pretty little hymn. The other is 'Psallite, Unigenito' by Michael Praetorius. This is a fun piece, it's about the birth of Christ but it's very upbeat. But the text is difficult because it is in both German and Latin. So they learn the first verse in Latin and the second verse in German," Rose said. "The German vowels were difficult for them to get down, because you have to make your mouth in one shape, and then inside your mouth you have to say a different vowel, like making an O with your mouth and then saying "E" inside. But they've done a good job with it."
Unlike some chorale arrangements, Rose doesn't divide his singers based on voice type, but rather intermingles them for both the vocal challenge as well as the resulting improved sound. Combine this with the already complex nature of many of the pieces
"The voices are very independent in many of the pieces. Some of these pieces are rhythmically complex and the singers really have to be on their toes. They memorize all their music and typically do not stand next to people who are singing their same part. It makes for a better sound," Rose said.
The UT Tyler Patriot Singers will perform tonight at 6 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church at 230 W. Rusk St. in Tyler. Admission to the concert is free.