Highlighting the Family Weekend schedule are the year’s first concerts on Saturday afternoon.
At 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on Salisbury Street, the WPI Choral Association will fill the sanctuary with song.
Under the direction of John Delorey, director of choral music, the four choruses will perform as well as the three student-run a cappella groups.
It’s a program chosen “to hit on three different styles to show what talented singers these kids are,” says Delorey. “They can do anything: folk style, pop music, classical.”
After the singers leave the stage, WPI’s instrumental musicians will play at 4 p.m. across campus in Alden Hall.
Douglas Weeks, head of the music division of the Humanities and Arts Department as well as director of instrumental music, will direct the Brass Ensemble, Orchestra and Concert Band in a variety of pieces. Richard Falco, director of jazz studies, will direct the Jazz Ensemble and the Stage Band.
“It’s the highest quality of challenging music at a level that can be learned very quickly,” says Weeks of the instrumental selections, noting that the annual Family Weekend concert comes relatively early in A-term. “[The program] had to be appealing to the students and people in the audience and capable of being rehearsed in three weeks.”
Though this initial concert typically combines voices and instruments in a single event, this year Delorey and Weeks decided to divide the two.
For one thing, the two sections of the Music Division are now physically separated, with the instrumentalists based in Alden Hall and the Choral Association now in its new home at First Baptist Church, where they both rehearse and perform.
Moreover, the combined groups are so large that it made sense to have two separate concerts.
The afternoon’s concerts give all of the WPI musical groups an opportunity to shine.
“The music program has increased three-fold over the last 15 years,” says Delorey, referring to the choral groups. It now includes 57 women and 42 men.
Alden Voices, the women’s chorus founded in 1978, will start off the choral concert with three pieces, conducted by Stephanie Gulezian and accompanied by Rachel Plante, both students. The chorus will perform “Nearer My God to Thee” (arranged by John Delorey), Eric Whitacre’s “The Seal’s Lullaby,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel.
The Men’s Glee Club will follow, also with three pieces. The Glee Club, which turned 140 last year, is not only the oldest singing group on campus, but also one of the oldest glee clubs in the country.
Their choices include “Brothers in Song,” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” with a solo by tenor Sebastian Espinosa ’16, and “Quodlibet on Sea Shanties,” again arranged by Delorey. Jeremy Filteau is the student conductor and Hannah Kraus the student accompanist.
Vocal Performance Lab, the chamber group Delorey directs, will sing “The Long Day Closes” (Arthur Sullivan). Michael Gagliano ‘16 will conduct, with Kraus as accompanist.
Interspersed among the choruses will be performances by the three a cappella groups on campus: the Audiofiles (co-ed), the Technichords (all women), and Simple Harmonic Motion (all men).
The program will conclude with the WPI Festival Chorus (a combination of Alden Voices and the WPI Men’s Glee Club, with additional singers as well). They will sing Pete Seeger’s “To My Old Brown Earth,” “Sound Over All Waters” (Halley) and Ubi Caritas, also by Halley. Nathan Caso is student conductor and Kraus again accompanies.
The latter is an African piece with percussion and piano that Delorey calls “a really cool piece.” The guest accompanist will be James Haupt ’05.
The Festival Chorus’ pieces are a preview of the program on Oct. 10, when the group, plus alumni(ae) will present Paul Winter’s “Missa Gaia/Earth Mass” at the First Baptist Church.
“[These kids] are really willing to take a chance – they’re fearless,” says Delorey of all of WPI’s singers. “That’s why I love working with them. They’re all about making beautiful music and they do a great job at it.”
Immediately following the choral concert, at 4 p.m. in Alden Hall, Douglas Weeks will lift his baton to direct the WPI Brass Ensemble in Gabrieli’s “Sonata pian e forte.” This first selection of the instrumental concert is from the 16th century.
With 100 musicians in the Concert Band and a 70-piece Orchestra, WPI’s instrumental program is thriving. The two jazz bands, Jazz Ensemble and the Stage Band, are both fixed at 20.
“Although some of groups are more selective, there’s a place for everybody to play,” says Weeks.
He’s particularly delighted that “many new freshmen are involved” in Saturday’s concert, “their first experience with us.”
After the Brass Ensemble’s introductory piece, the two jazz bands, directed by Rich Falco, will offer five selections. The WPI Jazz Ensemble will play “Ronnie’s a Dynamite Lady” and “Free Food.” The WPI Stage Band follows with “No Nonsense,” “Salsero Viejo,” and “Chrysalis.”
The WPI Orchestra will next play Bellini’s “Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra,” with oboe soloist Jeff Porzio, a second year graduate student in Material Science. The orchestra’s second piece will be “The Hebrides Overture” by Felix Mendelssohn.
Finally, the concert concludes with three pieces by the WPI Concert Band: “Foundations” (Mark Camphouse); Hagen and Rogers’ “Harlem Nocturne”; and Mass, Prelude and Aztec Dance from “La Fiesta Mexicana” by H. Owen Reed.
Mechanical Engineering major Natalie Diltz ‘15, who plays the baritone saxophone, will solo on “Harlem Nocturne.”