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Western Piedmont Symphony harmoniously partners with App State choirs

Rian Hughes

Two App State student choral ensembles are collaborating with the Western Piedmont Symphony in a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana Saturday night at the Schaefer Center for Performing Arts.

The performance will combine the Appalachian Chorale, the Appalachian State University Singers and the Western Piedmont Symphony to bring together over 130 voices and a full orchestra.

“This concert promises to be an extraordinary event, filled with rich and exciting music that will captivate, uplift and entertain the entire Boone community,” said DaVaughn Miller, associate professor and conductor of the Appalachian Chorale.

Senior vocal performance and music industry studies double major Sofi Rohlman is the student assistant for the Appalachian Chorale. 

Rohlman said she has been involved in the process of preparing for this performance since August. Being the student assistant, she was able to help aid in the teaching process of the piece and other administrative duties. 

When it comes to singing with a symphony, Rohlman said it requires more listening than the average performance.

“There is so much going on during this piece, so it’s easy to get lost in the sound,”  Rohlman said. “Listening to melodies that are familiar and relying on certain melodic ideas makes it easier to follow along and stay grounded.”

Jake Taylor, associate professor and conductor of the Appalachian State University Singers, said that singing in a larger ensemble demands extra work to ensure the words can be heard by the audience. 

Taylor said it’s normal for singers to default to a smoother, legato sound, but in order to be heard through the orchestra, it’s necessary to sing this piece with sharper and heavily accented sounds. Without added emphasis on diction and consonants, the singing would become inaudible to listeners.

“At times, it feels like we are singing like percussion instruments,” Taylor said. 

In addition to the different approach to singing, Taylor also mentioned that combining three ensembles requires a lot more communication from the directors.

“The dress rehearsal a few hours before the concert will be the first time that all participants will be together on the stage,” Taylor said. “To accomplish this, the different directors have had to communicate a lot to ensure we are all on the same page artistically.”

Miller said that to make the preparation less daunting, they split the large piece into “reasonable” parts, which made it more manageable to learn during the fall semester. 

One of the challenges Miller mentioned was learning to sing in Latin and old German.

“This added an extra layer of complexity to the rehearsals, but we were up for the challenge,” Miller said.

Both professors also remarked on the symbolism between the symphony traveling from Hickory to join musical forces due to App State’s new Hickory Campus. 

“The collaboration between the Hickory-based orchestra and the Boone-based choirs is a wonderful way to celebrate the new and future partnerships between the Boone and Hickory campuses of Appalachian State,” Taylor said.

Even if you are not an avid listener of classical music, there is a place for you in the audience to appreciate the amount of work that has been put into this collaboration. 

“This is a recognizable masterwork,” Rohlman said. “Even if people don’t know the name or the composer, singing a couple bars of the opening tune tends to jog memories and spark excitement.”

Tickets can be purchased online on the Schaefer Center website. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“I can’t think of a better introduction to this style of music than Carmina Burana,” Taylor said. 

Correction: A previous version of this article stated the wrong date for the performance. This has been fixed in the article.


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About the Contributors
Rebekah Mann, Reporter
Rebekah Mann (she/her) is a junior with a double major in journalism and dance studies a minor in English.
Rian Hughes, Associate Graphics Editor
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