By MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Anticipation always runs high in Dickinson's Weiss Center for the Arts this time of year, but now there’s an extra jolt of electricity in the air. After a year of remote practices and performances, Dickinson musicians are performing together again in person—socially distanced, of course—and drawing energy and inspiration from live audiences. Those in the Dickinson Orchestra, Dickinson Improvisation & Collaboration Ensemble (DICE) and College Choir add additional layers of meaning to the mix, presenting music tailored to help them—and their audiences—process the historic events of the current era.
The orchestra’s recent, sold-out concert was a musical celebration of unity in the face of adversity. Robert Pound, professor of music and orchestra director, selected works by woman and Asian-Canadian composers in response to the #MeToo movement and recent rise of anti-Asian sentiment. The orchestra performed works inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s words as expressions of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and an acknowledgement of the good social-justice work still ahead.
The upcoming choir/DICE concert is a reflection on the humanistic challenges of the recent past and present. Dickinson musicians will perform two movements from Mozart’s Requiem to express anger, outrage and sorrow at the murders of Black Americans, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. They'll present Shawn Kirchner’s revision of “America the Beautiful” to acknowledge public reckonings, both at Dickinson—which recently renamed several public buildings and established a Dickinson and Slavery walking tour and a Land Acknowledgement statement—and beyond. The choir also will close the program on a hopeful note, singing Aaron Copland’s "The Promise of Living."
During rehearsals, the choir’s director, Professor of Music Amy Wlodarski, has seen cathartic tears streaming down the faces of her singers. Many of her students have expressed how much the experience means to them.That includes soprano Lexi Chroscinski ’22, a classical-studies major. As she gets ready for a Dec. 2 noontime chamber concert, the Dec. 3 choir/DICE performance and an Infernos a cappella concert on Dec. 10, Chroscinski is more grateful than ever for the chance to sing alongside fellow Dickinsonians.
“I am able to have such a greater appreciation for the music I sing and the people I am so blessed to be able to sing with,” Chroscinski says. “I can’t even begin to put into words how wonderful it has been to sing all together once more.”
These are only a few of the dynamic concerts Dickinson musicians are presenting this fall. For a full schedule of upcoming public arts events, check out Dickinson's Calendar of Arts. To see photos of past events, check out the music department's Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Published November 29, 2021