PRISM concert featured variety of musical talent
Biola chorus members sing during the October 15, 2011 Prism concert.| Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES
On Oct. 15, Crowell Hall was filled with the murmur of voices as parents, grandparents, students, siblings and friends gathered to enjoy two hours of talent from Biola’s Conservatory of Music. The PRISM concert, held annually during Parent’s Weekend, is a tradition at Biola.
Concert features variety of musical talents
Preparation for the concert has been a long process; some students, such as Andy Witbeck, a freshman earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in music with an emphasis in trumpet, says he received music for the PRISM concert within the first week of school.
Auditions are held every year for the concert. Solo spots, either vocal or instrumental, are highly coveted, said Robert Feller, a conductor and a full-time faculty member who teaches and coaches in the Conservatory.
Waiting in line, Brian Moulton said that he and his wife, who currently have two students in the Conservatory, have always enjoyed PRISM.
“For us parents, it’s a showcase of the wide variety of music programs they have here,” Moulton said.
Performance opens with tribute to Pauline Hogan
The concert began with an introduction from the Conservatory’s director, George Boespflug, which included a tribute to Pauline Hogan, whose involvement in the music program was substantial. She worked closely with students and encouraged them in their talent.
Upon her passing, a fund has been established in her name to help music students financially; the audience received the opportunity to donate to this scholarship. Boespflug emphasized the Conservatory’s upcoming newsletter, “Bravo.” He concluded his introduction with a prayer, asking that the performance be joyful and glorifying to God.
Song selections varied in style
At the prayer’s close, the resounding notes of “Rejoice and Sing, Alleluia!” rang throughout the hall as the brass ensemble gave a spirited rendition conducted by Feller. Following this piece was “Hoe Down,” a classic from the ballet “Rodeo” composed by Aaron Copland and performed by the Biola Symphony Orchestra. The music incorporated the sound of hoof beats into its mixture, all of the instruments moving together in harmony.
Contrasting with the upbeat sound of “Hoe Down,” the next song was “Es lebt’eine Vilja,” from “The Merry Widow.” Professor and conductor Marlin Owen provided context for the selection, explaining that it is a folk song about luring a widow away.
“So, if you feel yourself being lured, don’t be concerned,” Owen said.
Sung by freshman Elizabeth Sywulka, the song displayed an incredible range of emotion. Through her performance, she merged opera vocals and acting, using her entire body to communicate the meaning of the piece.
Transitioning from opera to orchestra, Owen conducted Schuman’s “When Jesus Wept” and “Chester,” which began softly and gradually added instruments as it progressed.
The ending was a magnificent culmination of the Symphony Orchestra’s ability. The Biola women’s chorus followed, singing “Sing Dem Herrn” and “Cantate Domino.” Sophomore Tanya Vos, a sociology and Bible major in the women’s chorus, especially enjoyed singing “Cantante Domino.”
“It was fun glorifying God through that song,” Vos said.
The Biola chorale continued and sang “Angel Band,” the complex “Spiritu Sancto” and the familiar “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me,” led by conductor John Tebay.
To conclude the first half of the program, the Symphony Orchestra returned to perform Anton Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance in G Minor, Op. 46, No. 8, dedicated in memory of Pauline Hogan.
Resuming the concert after intermission, Biola’s jazz ensemble entertained the audience with “Play That Funky Music,” followed by senior Danielle Evans, singing “Ain’t it a Pretty Night?” from “Susannah.”
The King's Men perform two songs
Arrayed in bright colors, The King’s Men took the stage next, singing “Somebody to Love” with apparent camaraderie and joy.
“I love the fact that there are five other guys that can challenge me with the level of their talent,” said junior Mackenzie Burns, a member of The King’s Men for two years and a biblical studies major.
Similarly, Arnold Geis, a senior music major and a member of The King’s Men, said that he loves music because it’s “creating something that’s not physical,” and in many ways “mirroring God’s creation.”
Sophomore Jordan Weaver, also a member of the group, loves “sharing, glorifying God through music,” as he is a music education major. With their passion for Christ and talent for singing, these six men seemed like a family onstage; however, they warmly welcomed sophomore Tori Caplinger in their second song, “I’ll Fly Away,” in which she sang soprano.
The seven students blended their voices, finishing in harmony to an exuberant applause from the audience.
Caleb Parker, junior at Biola and also a member of The King’s Men, played “Mazurka-Choro” on the guitar, proving that one instrument can capture the audience’s attention as successfully as an ensemble. The Biola string quartet played next, featuring violins, a viola and a cello in “Four, For Tango.”
Finale includes sounds of different faiths
The saxophone quartet performed the penultimate selection, “Fandango.” In a grand finale, the Biola Symphonic Winds presented “La Mezquita de Cordoba,” a song about a church in Spain that has been home to numerous faiths.
At some points in the song, one could hear the sound of church bells, blending with the other layers and culminating in an exquisite finish.
“There are many flavors in one song,” Feller said.
An event welcomed by families and students alike, the PRISM concert showcased the talent of the Conservatory to those in attendance. Especially suited for families because of its variety, the concert remains a valued tradition at Biola.