By Mary Baker
Grand Rapids Community College will host the Spring Choral Concert on Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m. Three of the GRCC’s vocal ensembles will join forces to perform Carmina Burana.
“(‘Camina Burana’ is) a massive, one-hour work for multiple choirs and two pianos by the German composer Carl Orff,” stated Caleb Wenzel, the director of choral and vocal activities.
“The text of the composition comes from a collection of medieval poetry,” Wenzel stated. The composition is perhaps most famous for its opening and closing movements ‘O fortuna’. The music for the first and last movement is its own classical music pop culture reference.
It’s been used in commercials, movies, and countless TikTok videos. There will be solo songs that will be sung by the faculty baritone, William Bokhout, current soprano voice student Megan Meadows, and by recent GRCC graduate Chelsea Molin.
“Normally, this composition is performed with over 100 people in the choir, but we’re performing it with about 45 people,” Wenzel stated.
For the last part of the composition, GRCC will be joined by the choirs from Lansing Community College. “Normally, GRCC hosts choirs from community colleges from all over the state,” Wenzel stated. “This year’s community college festival was canceled, the students and director and Lansing wanted to collaborate, so they decided to join GRCC for this special performance.
“This performance has some special significance to perform after so many aspects of performing arts were disrupted,” stated Wenzel. “When I started at GRCC in August 2020, we were about 85% online in the music department. Today, we’re about 10% online. We have had to adapt in so many ways: choir rehearsals held online over Zoom, rehearsal in the parking ramp, smaller choir group rehearsals. In early January, I had COVID, so we even missed two weeks of rehearsal while I was sick and had to reschedule our MidWinter concert. Our choir students have worked together so well to do whatever we could to make sure we could still hold choir rehearsals in line with public health recommendations from the Kent County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control.”
On April 13, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom released video footage from the police shooting of Patrick Lyoya.
“Our performance venue is just one block from the GRPD station, so the GRCC police chief is keeping in touch with city officials and GRPD officials about planned protests,” Wenzel stated. “Our choir members are profoundly saddened by the loss of life, and for several of our choir members who come from the South East part of the city where the shooting took place, this tragedy strikes very close to home.”
The Choral Concert is currently expecting to give their performance, but if protests persist into Friday, they may not be able to give a public performance at the planned venue.
“There’s a strong sense among our members that we should still perform,” Wenzel stated. “Art belongs as part of the most difficult experiences of our community. We are going to do whatever we can to present this composition to our community, even if we have to make yet another adaptation.”
The event will be held at St. Cecilia Music Center. It will be $5 for adults and $3 for students, seniors and veterans. All GRCC and GRPS students with current school ID’s can attend for free.