Colby Chamber Choir performs at Carnegie Hall

On Monday, March 9, at 8 p.m., the Colby College Chamber Choir made its debut performance at Carnegie Hall. The historic venue is the gold standard of music halls, and it reflects extraordinarily well on the talent of the choir to have been selected for such a prestigious opportunity. Choir director Nicolás Dosman said, “Many of the people who perform in this chamber music series are from conservatories or are professional musicians, so it’s really quite exceptional that a small liberal arts college ensemble got to perform.”

The choir performed a set entitled Between Heaven and Hell: The Human Experience and Journey of the Soul. “You can’t do Carnegie without a vision,” sDosman said, explaining how the set came to be. After reading the recent literature and thinking deeply about possible topics, he settled on the concept of the soul, which he addressed from two angles. “The first part of the concert, ‘The Human Experience,’ is everything that deals with human suffering, human emotion, everything that we deal with here on earth,” he said. The second part, ‘The Journey of the Soul’ looks into the nature of the transcendent soul. “When we think of the soul, we believe it’s the essence of who we are as humans. It’s the very best of who we are; it includes redemption, hope, and to a certain extent mystery,” he said.

Arranged by Dosman, the program featured pieces in English and Latin from nine recent composers. Notable among these is Paul Leary, faculty fellow at Colby from 2012 to 2013. Leary had written the piece specifically for the Colby choir, so Dosman knew it was a piece that the choir could perform well. In addition, its topic, Psalm 131, happened to resonate with the program’s theme.

Annie Friedrich ’16 was the featured soloist in Leary’s pieceand was one of two soloists featured throughout the program alongside Tristan Friedman ’17. Dosman found the audition process for solos to be a very different experience at Colby than at other places he has taught.  “Strangely enough, a lot of the students at Colby are intimidated by trying out for solos. It’s so funny…. When I taught high school and other things, everyone and their mother would be beating down the door to get a solo in Carnegie, but here I had only three tryout, and one did so reluctantly.” Although the audition process was less externally selective than most, it is clear that there was a high degree of self-selectivity that contributed to the selection of these two highly capable singers.

Performing at Carnegie is often considered the pinnacle of a musician’s career, the goal to which performers aspire all their lives. When asked if performing at Carnegie was his dream, however, Dosman answered “To me, it’s more important to make a difference in people’s lives—that was my dream. Carnegie’s just part of that, but if I did Carnegie Hall and that’s the only thing I ever accomplished in my life, would that be accomplishing my dream? No. I want to make an impact on people’s lives, to be able to help people.”

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