The APU Chamber Singers perform their first concert of the semester.

Choral favorites such as “Christus factus est” and “Give me Jesus” were just a few of the breathtaking pieces that were performed Saturday evening at Munson Chapel by the Azusa Pacific Chamber Singers.

Each composition that was performed at the “Let Heaven and Nature Sing” Winter Concert included important elements of creation and nature through the presentation of unique songs and interesting sounds. This included the sacred Renaissance motet by Monteverdi and Palestrina. These elements were portrayed through the talented voices of the ensemble, highlighting romantic works of Eric Whitacre and descriptive composing by Stephen Leek.

The concert comes as the first of two performances for the ensemble this semester.

“It is our pleasure to present such a wide variety of music that embodies the truth of Heaven and the beauty of nature,” said Choir Manager Madison Newbro.

“Many of Whitacre’s pieces, including tonight’s ‘A Boy and a Girl’, feature the words of Mexican poet Octavio Paz,” said tenor Brian Sidders, a sophomore music composition major. “In this piece, Paz’s text tells the story of a lifetime shared by two lovers, from the sweet and innocent “oranges” of childhood, to the slightly more bitter “limes” that come in life’s later years, and even to the eternity they spend together in their graves. Whitacre employs text painting throughout the entire piece to bring Paz’s words to life.”

This particular piece, which drew a picture of romanticism, was applicable to the season as Valentine’s day is just around the corner.

Stephen Leek’s popular piece, “Red Earth”, was performed towards the end of the evening. The program note explains how the piece illustrates through music the Australian Uluru sandstone formation standing at 1,000 feet.

Alto Moxy Mohr, a Senior commercial music major and a first-year performer with the ensemble, said the Uluru is sacred to the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, and is famed for its ancestral origins and various mythological meanings.

“This free-feeling, introspectively slow work moves indeterminably between meters, evoking not only the image of tribal aboriginal peoples disappearing into the Australian plains, but also the evanescent wisps of a primitive creation story,” said Mohr.

Since the spring semester began only four weeks ago, the Chamber Singers have been hard at work diligently preparing their repertoire for the Winter Concert and future performances. “It feels pretty good. We were pretty well prepared for this concert, so I’m proud of all the members.” Newbro said.  

In addition to rehearsing twice-a-week, ensemble members take an annual weekend retreat up to the mountains at the beginning of the spring semester to get a chance to have more time to rehearse.

“This is my fourth and final year in Chamber and getting ready for the winter concert is always very interesting because it is so fast after the new semester has started, and most of the music that we have for this concert is brand new music,” said Newbro.

The 30-voice mixed ensemble is known for traveling around the world participating in competitions against other premier college choirs, according to the APU Website. They were founded in 2000 and have since performed at venues like the Sydney Opera House, the Vatican, Paul’s prison in Rome and St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The ensemble will be celebrating its 20th anniversary during the 2019-2020 academic school year.

“Chamber Singers has a long tradition of taking our work very seriously, but not taking ourselves too seriously,” said Michelle Jensen, conductor of the ensemble. “It’s a very hard audition to get into Chamber Singers and the music is a lot of variety. It has to be people that are going to be working hard and refining their craft. But at the same time, there’s no room for divas.”

The Chamber Singers will perform next at their Spring Concert on April 24 at Munson Chapel.