All Stories

William Dowell ?22 William Dowell ’22As I looked up from my stand, I saw myself surrounded by musicians. Singers were scattered throughout the A. F. Siebert Chapel, all watching Professor Eduardo García -Novelli as my bow touched my string for the first note. When I played, my sound floated through the chapel, reaching each listener as they watched from the balcony. Cameras stationed at the corners recorded the ensemble as we grew. When I allowed my first phrase to slowly fade, I heard it. A cacophony of voices filled the room with each singer building the powerful harmony. It was then when I fully understood that, while the concert was socially distanced, the music we were making was not.     

Preparing for a socially-distanced performance created a new set of challenges as a musician. In a normal choir performance, I would sat in front of the choir with my sound flying to the audience. Instead, the choir faced me as our music blended together in the middle of the chapel. I had to ensure I projected my sound while maintaining a warm, clean tone. It was challenging at first, but it was satisfying to eventually hear the notes ring out among the voices.

In the warm-up leading to the performance, the preconcert excitement started to build among the musicians. Whether it is performing for 50 or 500 people, you can always feel energy and anticipation radiate throughout the ensembles.

The Carthage Choir opened the concert with “O God, Reach Forth to My Aid” by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla. Gabe Fulk ’22 began the song with a beautiful solo that was followed by the choir’s powerful entrance. It was during the next song, “Refuge” by Elaine Hagenberg, that I was able to blend my cello with the choir. They finished their performance with “This Sky” by Venezuelen composer Carlos Cordero. The final chord they sang was simply stunning. From the intense opening phrases to the peaceful ending, it was exhilarating to be able share this music with the Carthage community. 

When Carthage Choir left the chapel, the Wind Orchestra entered. With both music stands and their instruments in their hands, the musicians quickly set up to play. They filled the room with their music, performing David Godbold’s ’16 “And the Sun Slept” for carillon and band, Hale Smith’s arrangement of the hymn tune “Abide with Me,” and Smith’s arrangement of “Castle House Rag” by James Reese Europe. While I was unable to head to the balcony and watch them perform, their sound filled the narthex, and I was able to enjoy their music as I took my time putting away my instrument.

Looking back to that performance, I am reminded by Prof. García -Novelli’s comment about “Refuge” and how we find our refuge through music. Due to the hard work of the faculty and staff, musicians such as myself were able to create music for others. That connection and sharing through music became my refuge. When the last note left my string, I knew I was back home.