The auditorium was dark and vibrating with energy. Slowly, the chamber choir group lined onto the stage behind their podiums, where they laid booklets with sheet music. The pianist, Jeremiah Trujillo, sat to the left of the stage at a grand piano. To begin, the chamber choir performed “God’s Great Dust Storm,” composed by Anna Bergheim and others, using the array of female and male voices in rising and falling dynamics to represent a cataclysmic event. A student at the far end banged a large drum.
The performance by the Las Positas choir program was its first live performance since the pandemic began. Spring semester classes for Chamber Choir and Vocal East prepared their semester’s worth of work in the Spring Vocal Ensembles Concert at the Las Positas Mertes Center. Despite some inexperience, the students’ hard work and grit showed through in their performances.
After performing “Hehlelooyuh” by James Furman, the group dedicated the song “Super Flumina Babylonis,” composed by Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina, to the Ukrainians fighting for their independence. They also wore blue and gold for their performances, the color of Ukraine’s flags. “Super Flumina Babylonis” was based on a Psalm 136 or 137 in the King James Bible, a hymn expressing longing sung by Jews during their exile from Babylon.
They also performed “Sure on this Shining Night,” composed by Samuel Barber, and “Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord,” composed by Undine Moore.
“A Single Drop of the Ocean,” composed by Undine Moor, was the most memorable performance of the evening. Director of Chamber Choir and Grammy-nominated conductor Ash Walker introduced the performance with the song’s message. Walker said, “He was all the ocean, and she was drowning in a single drop.” He dedicated the song to the relationship of East Vocal’s director Ian Brekke and Foothill’s choir director Katria Brekke.
The Chamber Choir students were able to meet composer Undine Moor for this performance, and their dedication to deliver its message shined through. The audience was beckoned by the waving motion with which the director guided the choir’s voices, which slowly faded like the tide receding into the ocean.
After intermission, the group Vocal East entered the stage. A large cello and drum set were accompanied by LPC professor Cindy Browne Rosefield, who teaches music theory and rock history classes, and applied programs student Ian Sylvester. If Chamber Choir represented the emotions that swell on a moonlit night, the curious and universal ponderings, Vocal East represented the breach of a new dawn, the glow of new prospects and the feeling of sunshine flooding the soul.
First, Vocal East performed “Summertime,” composed by Jesca Hoops. Singing “Ya-de-do,” the group’s voices frolicked on dandelion fields with an upbeat tempo.
Next, they performed “Strollin’,” composed by Horace Silver.
Glowing pink cascaded across the stage. Jazzy piano bounced off the walls, and a voice followed. The vocal array was bouncy and unpredictable. During one piano solo, the group lined up and snapped to the beat. The song was Michael Brecker’s “African Skies,” which Brekke had wanted his classes to perform for years.
“They sing in a very complex harmony, so individual parts are very hard to learn,” Brekke said.
This year’s group had been talented enough to take on the challenge, and he said he “couldn’t be more proud.”
The next group, composed of members of Vocal East, was called the Early Birds. They are an entirely student-led group, with section leaders Lorenzo Robles and Danielle Perez. Taking time out of their busy schedules, they got together once a week to practice. They performed “Distance,” composed by Emily King.
Vocal East finished the concert with performances of “Michelle,” composed by John Lennon, and “Ray’s Rockhouse,” composed by Ray Charles, with plenty of wonderful solo moments for the students.
Brekke said he is happy to “get live music back in our lives” with these long-awaited performances. If you are interested in taking choir classes and performing in concerts like this, there are voice classes MUS 44 in the summer, and MUS 23A, MUS 38, MUS 45 and MUS 46 in the fall.
Also, check out @lpc_expressnews on TikTok for the live performances.
Lizzy Rager is a copy-editor for The Express.