Festival of Men’s Choruses: Musical Brotherhood

On November 8, Rousmaniere Hall was filled with the sound of more than 100 male voices singing in harmony at the Festival of Men’s Choruses. While the festival is an annual tradition, this year’s concert was special: Catholic Memorial’s Chorale and the St. Albans School Madrigal Singers from Washington, D.C. joined the Roxbury Latin Glee Club and the Belmont Hill B-Flats in celebration of RL’s 375th anniversary.

First to perform was the CM Chorale. Formed only last year, the group delivered a strong performance, opening their five-piece set with a traditional Muskogee song titled Heleluyan, featuring a canon with the title of the song as the sole lyric. Next, CM performed the gregorian chant Gloria in unison and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus—two sacred pieces. To end, they sang CM’s fight song Cheer! Hail! Fight! and a jaunty rendition of There is Nothing Like a Dame.  

Next up were the St. Albans Madrigal Singers, who performed with synchronization and skill in their four songs, the first of which was the Italian piece Ad Amore. The close harmonies in the piece impressed the audience. The Madrigal Singers followed up this impressive opening with Bound for the Promised Land, an early American hymn, and Biebl’s Ave Maria, a hallmark of men’s choral music. For Ave Maria, a bass, baritone, and tenor trio sang from the balcony, giving the piece a call-and-response sensation. The group concluded with a special performance of Men of the Future, Stand.

Veterans of the festival, the Belmont Hill B-Flats anchored the guest performances with a strong four-song showing. They opened with I Can See Clearly Now, a familiar Johnny Nash tune. They moved on to the more doleful Prayer of the Children and then the more contemporary Castle on the Hill. The B-Flats finished with the Canadian folk song Northwest Passage, with their new headmaster, Gregory Schneider, singing the solo.

After intermission, the Roxbury Latin Latonics reopened the show with three stellar pieces. First, the group flawlessly debuted its rendition of Ave Maria, written by Tomás Luis de Victoria. They followed this polyphonic Latin piece with the somber Irish folk song Danny Boy. Baritone Christian Landry (I) hit every note in the solo and touched every heart in the audience. Finally, the Latonics performed the fan-favorite Brown-Eyed Girl. Tenor Ale Philippides’s (III) solo had the entire crowd swooning, brown-eyed or not. 

Following the Latonics, the Roxbury Latin Glee Club made its seasonal stride down the aisles of Rousmaniere to join its brethren in song. The group began with the heartfelt Waitin’ for the Dawn of Peace, an American Civil War folk song. The Glee Club then masterfully performed O Vos Omnes, a Latin piece, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a tribute to Robert Frost’s poem with pianist Chris Zhu (I). It’s All Right brought some 60s soul to the festival with Tommy Reichard (IV), Eli Bailit (III), and Richard Impert (I) soloing. The RLGC closed with Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit, a classic American Spiritual. Emmanuel Nwodo (IV), Esteban Tarazona (II), and Frankie Lonergan (II) manned the song’s three solos.

Fittingly, the night ended with a performance of all four groups. A hearty rendition of Brothers, Sing On! was followed by the inspiring Seize the Day, with pianist Jonathan Weiss (I), which earned a standing ovation from the crowd. The last two performances captured the overarching success of the concert and the night’s theme of unity in brotherhood.

View photos from this year’s Festival of Men’s Choruses. (Photos by Mike Pojman and John Werner)

By Ethan Phan (II) and Daniel Berk (II)
Reprinted from The Tripod