The Women’s Choir at California Baptist University performed at the First Congregational Church of Riverside in a joint concert with Riverside City College’s Concert Choir and Chamber Singers Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.
The connection between RCC and CBU’s musical groups began when Philip Miller, Women’s Choir director, and John Byun, the RCC Concert Choir and Chamber Singers director, met at a convention and Miller asked Byun to work with the Women’s Choir.
“At that point we mentioned the possibility of doing a joint concert,” Miller said.
The three groups had the opportunity to sing in a building designed with excellent acoustics. The building’s high ceiling, arches and choir loft provided a complementary backdrop to the singers’ voices.
Women’s Choir usually uses speakers to amplify the sound but did not need any electronic assistance to be heard throughout the church.
Women’s Choir sang a mixture of modern and classical songs, while RCC’s choirs performed only classical pieces.
The RCC Chamber Singers sang “Der Feuerreiter” or “The Fire-Rider,” by Hugo Wolf. Discordant voices, which sing conflicting notes rather than harmonize, punctuated the song, interrupted by peaceful lulls of harmonious music.
Their fourth number, “O vos omnes”, was a melodic, harmonious song. “O vos omnes” is a Latin piece that was traditionally used in Holy Week mass. The melancholy music complemented the accompanying lyrics, which are taken from Lamentations. The sad, soothing song came before another dissonant song, “Alleluia.”
Ruthie Ceausu, Women’s Choir’s chaplain, saw this concert as an opportunity to draw people to the message of hope.
“Music connects,” Ceausu said. “Since we are Christian musicians, hopefully we can bring the music and make it our ministry.”
Women’s Choir usually performs to a predominantly church-going audience but this performance offered an opportunity to sing to an audience that may be unfamiliar with the message that Women’s Choir conveys—the message of Jesus.
Miller and the choir’s leadership try to place God first and their talents second. They do so by praying before each concert and participating in the small groups within the choir.
“If we don’t, it becomes more about our talents and voices than about God,” Ceausu said.
The choir conveyed this idea to the audience in the gospel style song “Holy is the Lord.” The song featured two soloists, Danae Lane and Sarah Sabesky. During Lane and Sabesky’s solos, the choir called out lively affirmations to the soloists’ words. The song concluded with the audience energetically clapping along.
Their classically inspired “Lux Aeterna,” on the other hand, created a much calmer mood within the church. “Lux Aeterna” means “eternal light” in Latin. The song began with a few soprano voices ringing out “Lux” intermittently. It ended dramatically with all voices singing different lyrics on different notes.
“There’s hope in the words of our songs,” Ceausu said, “and that’s a hope people need to hear.”