Performances and tours are among the true highlights of a college career, and friendships forged in MHC choral ensembles last a lifetime.
History of the Choral Ensembles
In 1877, Miss Charlotte Steele organized a select chorus to give "open air concerts on campus in summer." A student-led Glee Club, Banjo, and Mandolin society existed from the 1880's to the 1920's. "Interested...in social functions rather than in serious musicianship, its programs were modelled on those of the men's college glee clubs and included popular ballads and glees."
In 1893, the year after a department of music was created at Mount Holyoke, Prof. Fletcher formed "a choir...to sing anthems and choruses on Founder's and Commencement Days and at occasional Vespers services." In 1899, College Organist Prof. William C. Hammond organized a College Choral Club, later called the College Choir or "Carol Choir" which became widely celebrated for their annual Christmas Carol Concerts performed on campus and also in Hartford, Philadelphia, Boston, in New York's Town Hall and even (in 1926) at the White House.
Professor Ruth Douglass '23 remained at Mount Holyoke after her graduation, as soloist, vocal coach, Associate Conductor, and, after Hammond's retirement in 1937, as Choral Director, until 1967. In 1937, one student wrote that "the combined membership of the class choirs is more than three hundred, nearly a third of the whole student body. From among the upper-class choirs is selected every year a Glee Club of about a hundred voices." Miss Douglass' Glee Club continued the tradition of annual Christmas concerts in New York City and made a special album for Columbia Records in 1949. Her choirs provided music for compulsory chapel services and frequently performed with collegiate men's choruses.
Juilliard Conservatory graduate Tamara Knell (now Brooks, recently on the faculty at New England Conservatory), Choral Director from 1967-70, led two European concert tours--winning first prize at the Hague International Koorfest -- and introduced Mount Holyoke singers to a wide repertoire of significant choral literature for women's voices.
Professor Catharine Melhorn (with degrees from Smith College, University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Illinois) came to Mount Holyoke in 1970 to direct Concert Choir and was named Choral Director in 1971. Under her quarter century of leadership, Mount Holyoke choirs won critical acclaim throughout the US and abroad (South America, Russia, Sweden, Spain, central and eastern Europe, England and Wales, and Costa Rica).
Kimberly Dunn Adams joined the Mount Holyoke faculty in 2006. Under her direction, all three ensembles continued their legacy of performing diverse and socially relevant repertoire. Miguel Ángel Felipe acted as interim director of the choirs during the 2009-2010 school year while Professor Adams was finishing her doctorate degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Lindsay Summers Pope '07 was the Director of Choral Activities and Visiting Lecturer in Music at Mount Holyoke College from 2011 through 2016. Under her direction, the choral groups performed a challenging, varied repertoire for women's voices, joint concerts for mixed chorus, and led an alumnae tour of Ireland in Summer 2015. All of the choral ensembles continue the tradition of presenting the annual Christmas Vespers concerts on campus, in New York City, and in Boston. Choral music at Mount Holyoke is still going strong, with almost 200 students involved in singing every year.
The Chorale (Music 193fs) is an auditioned ensemble open to students from all four classes, graduate students, female faculty and staff. The ensemble meets twice weekly in McCulloch Auditorium--Mondays 7:15-9:30 pm and Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 pm. Students receive 1 academic credit per semester.
Each year, Chorale sings in a variety of languages and in a full range of styles. Sight-reading and music theory are incorporated into rehearsals, balancing musical training with a performance-based curriculum.
Thousands of women have been involved in singing at Mount Holyoke College and for many it begins right here. If you are interested in belonging to a diverse, artistic community, don't miss singing with an MHC chorus. You will sing great music, make new friends, and have a wonderful time!
Francesca Caccini, Aure volantiChen Yi, Chinese Mountain SongsEleanor Daley, Lake Isle of InnisfreeGabriel Faure, Cantique de Jean RacineGeorgian, ChelaGeorgian, Megruli AliloG.F. Handel, Music, spread thy voice aroundG.F. Handel, No, di voi non vo fidarmiFelix Mendelssohn, Lift Thine Eyes Claudio Monteverdi, Pur Ti Miro Sacred Harp, Sweet Prospect Heikki Sarmanto, Hanget Soi Ethel Smyth, March of the WomenSouth African, Vela VelaGwyneth Walker, Lessons from the Sea
David Brunner, Yo le canto todo el diaDavid Carpenter (arr.), How Can I Keep from Singing?Pablo Casals, Nigra SumAaron Copland, At the RiverGeorgian Traditional, Modi modi gazapkhuloGeorgian Traditional, Shari shuriRobert Hugh (arr.), How Can I Keep from Singing?Andrej Jansons, Balts sniedzinsRoh Ogura, Hotaru KoiSergei Rachmaninoff, AngelSouth African Traditional, LizelaEli Storbekken, KulokkCharles Albert Tindley arr. Barbara Baker, The Storm is Passing OverEric Whitacre, Five Hebrew Love Songs
Leroy Anderson (arr. Gionfriddo), Sleigh RideJ. S. Bach, Duet from Cantata No. 37Allen Bonde, To Walk Beyond DreamsBenjamin Britten, Wolcum Yole!Georgian, Lechkhumuri naduriMichael Haydn, Laudate pueri DominumZoltán Kodály, Esti dalClifton Noble Jr., This Little Light of MineRobert Schumann, NänieRobert Schumann, TriolettRobert Schumann, SpruchSerbian(arr. Nick Page), Niška BanjaSouth African, MamoshimaneUkrainian (arr. Stetsenko), The Angels Exclaimed Gwyneth Walker, How Can I Keep from Singing?Mack Wilberg, ShenandoahRalph Vaughan Williams, Linden Lea
Britten, Benjamin, "This Little Babe"Brown, Gregory, "Five women bathing in moonlight"Chen, Phyllis, Song for SyrinxEstevez, Antonio, "Mata del ánima sola"Georgian traditional, "Didebata"Hogan, Moses, "My soul's been anchored"Jones, Nathan, "Quelle est cette odeur agréable"Mendelssohn, Felix, "Abendlied"de Morales, Cristóbal, "O magnum mysterium"Paulus, Stephen, "The Road Home"Raminsh, Imant, Songs of the LightsSouth African traditional, "Saphela isizwe"Walker, Gwyneth, "How Can I Keep From Singing?"
The Glee Club (Music 293fs) is an advanced ensemble enrolling students from all four classes, graduate students, female faculty, and staff. The group meets twice weekly in McCulloch Auditorium--Mondays 4:15-5:45 pm and Wednesdays 7:15-9:30 pm. Students receive 1 academic credit per semester.
The Mount Holyoke Glee Club travels across the country and around the world. Under the direction and leadership of our previous director, Catharine Melhorn, we have undertaken choral tours to South America, Canada, England and Wales, Russia and Sweden, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, the former Yugoslavia, Spain, and Costa Rica, as well as to many parts of the United States (most recently to New Orleans and Pennsylvania; in earlier years to Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, California, Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Washington DC, and bi-annually to Boston and New York).
We explore a wide range of music, for women's and mixed voices. Joining with some of America's finest collegiate men's choirs (most recently from Harvard, Cornell, Rutgers, and University of Virginia), we perform major choral/orchestral works, such as Haydn's Harmoniemesse Brahms's Requiem, and Bach's St. John Passion and Mass in b minor. We also value shorter and smaller works--from brand new pieces written especially for us, to music spanning all the world's folk traditions.
We know that music--choral singing especially--connects us with others and provides true recreation for the soul. Our singers often claim they leave even the most demanding rehearsals with new energy to face the long night ahead, to tackle that essay due in the morning, or that lab report due yesterday!
Glee Club Repertoire
Amy Beach, The Chambered NautilusJohannes Brahms, Adoramus TeMaurice Durufle, Requiem Reena Esmail, TuttaranaFrode Fjellheim, Eatnemen VuelieGabriel Faure, Cantique de Jean RacineG.F. Handel, Music, spread by voice around (Solomon)Gustav Holst, Two Eastern PicturesSarah Hopkins, Past Life Melodies Arvo Part, Peace upon you, Jerusalem Eric Sawyer, Concord Hymn Ethel Smyth, March of the Women
Ernani Aguiar, Salmo 150Betty Bertaux (arr.), What Wondrous LoveJohannes Brahms, Nänie (Funeral Song), Op. 82Johannes Brahms, Vier Gesänge für Frauenchor (Four Songs for Female Choir), Op. 17Aaron Copland, At the RiverClaude Debussy arr. Alan Raines, Nuit d’etoilesĒriks Ešenvalds, Gaujas Meita Rotātāja (Adorning River Gauja Daughter)Georgian Traditional, DiadebRobert Hugh (arr.), How Can I Keep from Singing?Otmar Mácha, Hoj, hura hoj!A.J. Rahman, Wedding QawwaliJoan Szymko, A la media nocheGuiseppe Verdi, Laudi alla vergine Maria
Leroy Anderson (arr. Gionfriddo), Sleigh RideAllen Bonde, To Walk Beyond DreamsGeorgian, DiadebGeorgian, QanuriJames Gordon, Frobisher BayWilliam Hauser, InvitationJoseph Haydn, HarmoniemesseGustav Holst, Ave MariaStephen Hatfield, Las Amarillas Nathan Jones, What ShinesFelix Mendelssohn, A Midsummer Night’s Dream incidental musicKnut Nystedt, Hosanna Robert Schumann, Der WassermannAndré Thomas, Keep Your Lamps!Veljo Tormis, Sügismaastikud (Autumn Landscapes)Mack Wilberg, Shenandoah
Betinis, Abbie, "Cedit, Hyems"Brown, Gregory, "Five women bathing in moonlight"Debussy, Claude, "Salut printemps"Fili, Michael, "Himmelsknabe"Førde, Jan Magne, "Safari"Georgian traditional, "Diadeb"Georgian traditional, "Lechkhumuri maqruli"Handel, G. F., Foundling Hospital AnthemParanjoti, Victor, "Dravidian Dithyramb"Paulus, Stephen, "The Road Home"Tchaikovsky, P. I., "Much too soon in the season"Schubert, Franz, "Psalm 23"South African traditional, "Hlonolofatsa"South African traditional, "Saphela isizwe"
The Chamber Singers (297fs) is a highly select chamber choir of 12-16 voices drawn from Glee Club and Chorale. Rehearsals are in the Warbeke Room of Pratt Hall on Thursday evenings 7:15-9:15 pm. Students receive 1 academic credit per semester. Members of Chamber Singers usually possess excellent music reading skills, and enjoy the greater independence of being one of just a few voices on a part. The group specializes in challenging repertory from the 20th and 21st centuries, but regularly performs works from varied musical periods and genres. While the students in the Chamber Singers are talented and accomplished musicians, they major in a broad range of academic subjects including music, literature, biology, religion, and film studies.
Chamber Singers Repertoire
Abbie Betinis, Be Like the BirdChiara Margarita Cozzolani, Gloria in altissimis Deo from Two MotetsHugo Distler, Das verlassene Magdlein and Lied vom WindeHildegaard, Karitas HabundatKnut Nystedt, Karleckens Lov Josef Rheinberger, Ein Bild am Pfade and Der GebirgsbachR. Murray Schafer, SnowformsYossi Spivak, Ma Navu
Abbie Betinis, Jerusalem LuminosaGeorgian Traditional, Shen khar venakhiEdvard Grieg, Ved RundarneMichael Kohl (arr.), MaybeKnut Nystedt, ShellsFrancis Poulenc, Ave MariaFrancis Poulenc, Selections from Petites VoixVeljo Tormis, Lauliku lapsepõli
J.S. Bach, Cantata No. 150 (“Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich”)Bulgarian (arr. Petar Liondev), Kafal sviriBulgarian (arr. Philip Kutev), Dragana I SlaveyaCorsican, Agnus DeiCorsican, U VentuGyörgy Ligeti, Idegen földönGuillaume de Machaut, Puis qu’en oubliJohn Rutter, Deck the HallLana Walter, This Endris Night
Anonymous 4, "Nowel: Owt of your slepe aryse"Britten, Benjamin, "Sweet was the Song"Corsican chant, "Tota pulchra es"Duruflé, Maurice, "Tota pulchra es"Georgian traditional, "Diadeb"Georgian traditional, "Maqruli"Georgian traditional, "K'akheti"Hauser, William, "Invitation"McClellan, Robinson, The Woman Turns Herself into a FishParker, Alice, "Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal"Poulenc, Francis, Litanies à la vierge noireStorm, J. P., "Blooming Vale"Walker, William, "Sweet Prospect"