"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

12.04.2007

last night in live music: baylor chamber singers

I first saw the Baylor Chamber Singers Christmas Concert in 1999 with Skip. Just before racing over to the Armstrong-Browning Library for the show, I ran into my friend Charlene. When I told her where I was going, and when she learned that I hadn't seen the group before, she exclaimed, "Oh! You will see God."

Charlene was right. The Chamber Singers are perhaps Baylor's most talented vocalists, and their mostly acapella Christmas concert blends haunting Latin pieces from the Renaissance with beautiful modern compositions. I have seen the Chamber Singers many times in the last eight years, but it is always a treat, and last night was no exception. From the incredibly strong soprano who opened "Once in Royal David's City" to two lovely versions of "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" to newer John Rutter arrangements of classic songs, the show was, as always, nearly perfect.

Last night was particularly poignant because this is the final year that Donald Bailey is conducting the Singers. Bailey has taught at Baylor for 41 years and will retire at the end of this academic year, and one had the sense that for this final Chamber Singers performance, he chose his very favorites. Coupled with the presence of Chamber Singers founder and Conductor Emeritus Robert H. Young, who directed "The Blessed Son of God" as he always does, it made for a poignant evening of remembering the group's history and looking forward to its future.

Visiting the Armstrong-Browning Library was also a bit bittersweet for me this year as it's the first time I've been there since Ann Miller passed away. She introduced me to the library, and I think of her every time I am in that magnificent space, especially sitting in the main room under the quotation, "Youth is the only time to think and to set a great course." As the Singers' voices soared on the final "kyrie" of "The Blessed Son of God," I couldn't help but think that Professor Miller was there, listening and loving and reminding us that we only get one chance to set our courses and make our ways, so we'd better take advantage of it.

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