UNO Choirs Usher in the Holidays
'Tis the season and in early December the acclaimed University of New Orleans choirs brought good tidings and cheer to packed crowds with two chorale concerts designed to usher in the holidays.
"Our choirs have performed with every college choir in New Orleans, have performed with the New Orleans Civic Symphony and members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and have a strong reputation in the choral scene in our city and state," said Caroline Carson, director of choral activities at the University.
The University boasts four choral ensembles, including the Privateer Chorus, University Chorale, Gospel Choir and the UNO Show Choir, which sings and dances. Together the Privateer Chorus and University Chorale put on two performances last week, delighting audiences on campus and in the community with "Carols and Lullabies: a Holiday Concert." On Tuesday, they performed in the University's recital in the Performing Arts Center on campus and Saturday night, they sang at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lakeview.
Dressed in professional black, nearly 40 UNO students took to the stage, performing holiday songs from around the world. The holiday concert began with a processional to the English traditional tune, Kingsfold. Then the choirs launched into lively, yet lulling renditions of nine carols and lullabies of the Southwest, from the Biscayan "Oh, mi Belen!" and Puerto Rican "Alegria" to the Andalucian "Campana Sobre Campana" and Mexican "El Rorro."
Mezzo-soprano Corinne Dileo soloed, while Stephen Tumblin accompanied the group on the marimba. Pianist Liliia Olyinik provided accompaniment at both concerts.
Led by four student conductors, the choirs performed the traditional "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" by Felix Mendelssohn, English traditional tunes "My Dancing Day" and "Myn Lyking, as well as a Ukrainian carol, "Carol of the Bells." Carson then led the choirs to rousing performances of half a dozen more songs, including the Latin "Alma redemptoris mater" and an African Noel.
The music selection transported audiences to cultures and scenes from around the world and reflected the diversity of the University, where students currently hail from 97 countries.
Under the guidance of Carson, a dynamic director who has led concerts around the globe, the UNO choirs perform throughout the year around New Orleans. They have collaborated on concerts with choirs at Tulane, Dillard, Xavier and Loyola Universities, as well as the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Benjamin Franklin High School, the Jefferson Chorale and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. They have also performed with the New Orleans Civic Symphony, where Carson is assistant conductor, and with members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, described as "the longest-standing musician-governed and -operated orchestra in the U.S. and the only full-time professional orchestra in the Gulf South."
Over the last several years, the UNO chorale has also appeared as the featured college choir at the State American Choral Directors Association convention and a featured collegiate choir with Music Educators National Conference state convention. Both are key college music conventions in Louisiana, Carson said.
Membership in the choirs calls for three-times-a-week rehearsals, as well as additional time devoted to concerts and community outreach. The UNO choirs have used their voices to help lead local philanthropic and volunteer efforts designed to raise awareness of coastal restoration issues and homelessness in the city.