“I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free.” They are the opening lines of Rollo Dilworth’s arrangement, “I Sing Because I’m Happy,” and it was the closing piece for the Blair Academy Singers’ portion of the Fall Concert on Friday, November 18, at 6:45 p.m. in the Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre. The Singers took the stage along with the rest of Blair’s vocalists and instrumentalists to share with the community their efforts from this semester.
“You can’t help but smile and be in a good mood when you hear it,” Blair’s Director of Vocal Music Ryan Manni said of the gospel arrangement that tops his list of the season’s favorites. “It’s a symbol of why we do what we do.”
Mr. Manni directs four vocal ensembles in the concert: Singers, Sopralti, Blairitones and Chamber Choir. After seven years at the School, he has developed a modern repertoire for the students to connect to and feel “part of the narrative of choral music now and in the future.” Some songs the choir preformed Friday are “Peace” by Martin Åsander, “Ah! Si Mon Moine Voulait Danser,” arranged by Donald Patriquin and Stephen Paulus’ arrangement “The Road Home.”
While anyone who loves to sing can join the Singers, Chamber Choir requires students to audition. The ensemble’s repertoire includes more technically challenging pieces that require focus beyond individual technique. It is one of the things four-year choir member and Singers student conductor Justin Baggett ’23 enjoys most.
“I’m most excited to perform ‘Lamentations of Jeremiah’ because this piece is absolutely beautiful when performed to its full potential,” Justin said. “It requires a lot of hard work and vocal technicalities that were quickly learned by new members of the choir and improved on by returning singers.”
Hard work is a common theme for the Fall Concert, and alto saxophonist Adriana Gogioiu ’23 hopes that is evident during the performances she will be playing in: Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. “Every song we’ll be performing tells a story,” Adriana said, “and we are going to try and deliver that to the audience.”
Blair’s musical department chair and Director of Instrumental Music Jennifer Pagotto said she picked the storytelling pieces for the concert this fall with both students and audience in mind.
“I try to feature a range of composers and styles, and to choose music that our students will really latch on to, both as performers and audience members,” Mrs. Pagotto noted. The pieces in the repertoire were also chosen to honor the places the performers will be traveling this year–England and France–and to bring a piece of American musical history along with them.
“Students have responded well to my heightened expectations of them this year in terms of their technique, level of musicianship and engagement in rehearsal,” Mrs. Pagotto said. “They are playing at a higher level than is often the case by this point in the year.”
Click "play" below to watch the concert.