As spring semester draws to a close, the choral season does as well. Goshen choirs will join in Sauder Concert Hall to perform one last show for the 2018-2019 season this Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m..Earthtones is an annual performance put on by all of the Goshen College choirs which celebrates the culture and diversity of the world. The choirs will perform pieces from numerous countries, sung in languages such as Swahili, French, Sami and Hindi, as well as in English.
Some songs don’t include words at all, but rather voices mimicking percussive sounds.
The choirs will also be performing traditional dances with some of their pieces. For example, sophomores Meghna Das, Eden George and Elsie Liechty collaborated with the ensembles to teach them an Indian inspired dance for the combined piece, “Desh.”
Voices of the Earth, formally Women’s World Choir, and Men’s Chorus will also come together to sing a piece called, “Woyaya,” an annual tradition to send off graduating Goshen College seniors who are members of the choirs.
As also is tradition, senior music education majors will be conducting a piece of their choosing for their ensembles. Anne Buckwalter will be directing Voices of the Earth in a piece entitled “Canto Viaje,” a tune inspired by the Shipibo people she spent time with in Peru while on Study-Service Term.
Voices of the Earth will also perform one song with female and non-binary guests, including mothers, sisters and friends, among others. This tradition, which has been given the name “mother of all choirs,” honors the female and non-binary mentors who have helped guide the members of the choir through life.
This year’s piece is called “I Live and Breath.” Sophomore Mandy Morrison said that this tradition is one of her favorite parts of the show.
“This is when members of the choir invite their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. to come to the stage and sing a selected piece with the choir,” said Morrison. “I love this because you have a chance to connect with the community more and be able to sing with your loved ones.”
Debra Detwiler, director of Voices of the Earth and former director of Chamber Choir, will be retiring after this year. Detwiler has been at Goshen College since 1999 and established the Women’s World Music Choir in 2004. Detwiler was drawn to Goshen College by the energy of the students.
“The students at Goshen inspire me as some of the most energized, astute and thoughtful college students I’ve ever encountered,” said Detwiler. “I wanted to participate in a learning environment of that caliber.”
While she will no longer be teaching classes, Detwiler will continue conducting Voices of the Earth.
The Men’s Chorus, directed by Joshua Boggs, will sing a Gaelic song called “Seinn O,” as well as a couple songs from other traditions, including “Sivela KwaZulu,” a piece from South Africa.
“People should looks forward to lots of songs from different cultures and some awesome dances, too,” said Jonah Yoder, a senior member of the Men’s Chorus and of Chamber Choir. “The best part of Earthtones for me is the fact that we get to showcase so many different cultures in the same concert.”
Chamber Choir, also directed by Joshua Boggs, who took over the position from Detwiler this semester, will perform several pieces, including “Baba Yetu,” a South African song that will utilize drums and soloists. Audience members may recognize the piece — Parables performed it in their 2017-2018 lineup.
Other songs to be performed by the Chamber Choir include “Ilay Gandangan,” a Filipino piece, and “Celebrai.”
Matthew Smucker, a junior involved in Men’s Chorus and Chamber Choir, said audiences should look forward to “hearing music in a variety of styles and languages and seeing enthralling choreography performed by barefoot, scarf-wearing singers.”
The choirs have been preparing for the show since January. Whether you’ve been to every show the choirs have put on, or no show at all, Earthtones is a chance to come together and celebrate the world’s colorful cultures through music.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Goshen College students can attend free with a student ID. There’s no better way to close the year for Goshen College students than to go out singing and dancing.