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Chamber ensemble sings in Hagerstown

February 28, 2002|By KEVIN CLAPP

Seventeenth-century Italian men.

Twentieth-century women.

Not necessarily a pairing that would spring to most minds, though it was music to the ears of Scott Williamson, conductor of the Shepherd College Chamber Singers.

"I don't think one would equate 20th-century women and 17th-century Italian men. But we are," says Williamson. "We strive for a pure, clean sound and that sound fits very modern music and very old music."

Sunday afternoon, the 20-member student choral group will present a time-shifting program straddling the two centuries. At St. John's Episcopal Church, 101 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown, selections will include works by Canadian Eleanor Daley; Irish composer Bernadette Marmion; a piece in Hebrew written in memory of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Judith Shatin; and 17th century composer Giacomo Carissimi.

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Largely performed acappella, the program is tailored to the Lenten season and comes on the heels of the Singers' Washington, D.C., debut last weekend at St. Colombo's Episcopal Church near American University.

The concert is one of several recent higher profile performances by the ensemble. Williamson toured Ireland with the Chamber Singers last year. There he discovered the Marmion piece that is on this weekend's program.

Performing in St. John's, he says, provides a little bit of that European vibe, without the frequent flyer miles.

"St. John's is a wonderful place to sing," he says. "It's like an English cathedral, really, very acoustic."

Architecturally, the church will also provide Williamson's crew the chance to create a special effect. For one selection, the sopranos will face one another on either side of the pulpit. Their voices bouncing off the walls of the building will create an effect that should sound like an echo in the woods.

"We'll have a visual effect as well as an aural effect," Williamson says.

In choosing Sunday's program, Williamson says he is playing to the group's strengths.

"This type of group doesn't fit the big, romantic sound of a symphony chorus or the work of Mozart or Brahms," he says.

They do fit St. John's, a venue Williamson praises for its acoustics and appearance. St. John's minister of music Mark King returns the compliment.

"They're just a really fine group," King says of the Singers, who regularly perform during Sunday services and recorded a CD at St. John's last year. "They're always well received at St. John's."




If you go . . .

Shepherd College Chamber Singers, under the direction of Scott Williamson, in a choral concert and evensong service

Sunday, March 3

4 p.m.

St. John's Episcopal Church

101 S. Prospect St.

Hagerstown

Free

For information, call 301-733-2560.

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