Westminster Spring Choir Concert To Emphasize Unity
“A Circle of Song” is the theme for the spring concert by the Churchill Singers at Westminster College. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 28, in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. The performance is free and open to the public.
“The circle of song is a metaphor for unity and coming together,” explains Dr. Natasia Sexton, Professor of Music and Churchill Singers Conductor. “Our concert is the opening night of Alumni Weekend, so I wanted to choose a program of music that celebrates this idea of coming together from diverse places and backgrounds, yet recognizing that we are still somehow all bound together.”
The concert will include songs in different languages and styles. Among those pieces, a South African freedom song will be paired with a folk song from the American South, and a Latin motet with very contemporary dissonances will be presented alongside a German anthem from the 19th century, but every piece in the program reflects a common desire for unity.
Members of the Churchill Singers have enjoyed preparing this music and appreciate the opportunity to share pieces that originated in very different times and places but all point to commonalities among people.
Abigail Beach, a freshman from Lexington, Missouri, who is singing in her first Churchill Singers concert, recognizes an underlying message of perseverance that is inherent within the concert program. “When we sing the words ‘Come and stand in that river … Send your troubles down water’ from Stand In That River, this speaks to me as a reminder that no matter what troubles flow my way, I can persevere and overcome them,” she says. “Similarly, in Bernstein’s Somewhere I am reminded that, with perseverance, I can find my place in the world.”
Several of the choir members recognize that the concert theme is analogous to their journeys through Westminster College. Lillie Turkington, an exchange student from Belfast, Northern Ireland, acknowledges, “Every member of Churchill Singers has a different story. We come from different cultural backgrounds, yet when we come together and sing, all of those differences reveal our collective strength.”
Likewise, Sam Studer, a freshman from Columbia, Missouri, explains why One By One, a South African freedom song, is his favorite. “With everything happening in the world today, it is important to remember that though we may be separated by mountains, oceans, and even walls, we are united by our common humanity,” he says.
Students who sing in Churchill Singers have passed an audition and commit to three hours of rehearsal each week of the semester. Most of the singers who participate in the ensemble do so for multiple semesters.
Three singers who graduate this spring — Kellie Kavanaugh from Eureka, MO, Laura Kelly from Lone Jack, MO and Ella Leslie from Lee’s Summit, MO — have sung with Churchill Singers for eight semesters.
“I think that ending my four years with Churchill Singers by singing this music allows me to look back and see how much I’ve grown and also identify ways that I can continue to spread peace and practice love,” says Kavanaugh.