Combined ensembles bring jubilant music to GVSU
Chamber music, due to the intimacy experienced among its performers, has been described as “the
music of friends.” This week, that friendship will extend beyond the members of Grand Valley State
University’s chamber groups to include other student musicians.
Three organizations belonging to the GVSU department of music and dance — the Cantate Chamber
Ensemble, the University Arts Chorale and the Chamber Orchestra — will join together Thursday to
perform in the Cook-DeWitt Center on the Allendale Campus at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to
Ellen Pool, director of Choral Activities, said the Cantate Chamber Ensemble will open the concert with
a collection of pieces that will be sung without accompaniment.
“The Cantate Chamber Ensemble is a highly selective, 16-voice ensemble of men and women,” Pool
said. “(They) perform a wide variety of music including spirituals, folk, song arrangements and vocal
Following the Cantate Chamber Ensemble’s performance, the University Arts Chorale and the Chamber
Orchestra, directed by Henry Duitman, will combine to execute Mozart’s Coronation Mass No. 15.
“Collaborating with other performance ensembles provides opportunity to present music of specific
genres,” Pool said. “The University Arts Chorale welcomes the experience of singing a Mass by Mozart
with the orchestra as it was originally intended when the 23-year-old composer wrote it. It is exciting
for us to recreate this choral/orchestral masterpiece.”
The University Arts Chorale is an auditioned curricular chorale ensemble of 60 singers. While the
group includes music majors, it also welcomes singers from other academic disciplines, such as Tyler
Francavilla, a junior English education major at GVSU.
Francavilla said the building in which the performance is being held is key to the experience.
“The room is a beautiful space with great acoustics, particularly for the kind of music we’re
performing,” Francavilla said. “Performing with a large group — especially with (the) orchestra — in
there is absolutely riveting.”
Completed in 1779, this Mass is one of the most popular of Mozart’s 17 settings of the Ordinary of
“Mozart is jubilant music, though firmly rooted in the Classical era,” Francavilla said. “Expect a choir
and orchestra blending sweeping musical passages with vibrant proclamations of faith.”
Francavilla explained that the piece is a religious text, and the music is elegantly composed and
expressive of many emotions.
The University Arts Chorale typically performs two concerts each semester, and the concert on
Thursday will be its last appearance of the school year. For Travis Brock, a freshman and member of
the chorale, the best part of Thursday’s performance will be the feeling he instills in the audience.
“Singing is a huge part of my life, and I love doing it,” Brock said. “When I sing for an audience, it gives
me a thrill. It makes me feel as if I am changing those peoples’ days for the better.”
And as Francavilla said, the combination of ensembles added to the exceptional environment will
make for a memorable experience for all. “The atmosphere is going to be serious, but with the
exuberant joy of praise and celebration associated with the Mass,” he said.