Members of choir sing songs about hope in times of darkness
Ryan Ellis, the Director of Choral Music at Seattle Pacific University, found inspiration for the annual Fall Choir Concert from an unlikely source: daylight savings time.
As the clocks fall back, daylight savings marks the beginning of a season of darkness, with the sun rising later and setting earlier. Despite this darkness, Ellis found that autumn also signals the beginning of the Advent season, which represents hope and light. In this contrast, Ellis developed his theme for the year: Light and Love.
“I wanted to create a program that was talking about our inner light through Christ and finding it within ourselves,” Ellis said. “Knowing that through the teaching of Jesus, he has given us this path to knowing that inner light and trusting in it through all the darkness around us.”
Through a combination of hymns, poetry, gospel and scripture, the Women’s Choir, directed by Beth Anne Bonnecroy, and the Chamber Singers and the Concert Choir, directed by Ellis, gave performances that reminded the audience that there was always hope in the darkness.
In choosing the theme of Light and Love, however, Ellis saw beyond just the darkness of the season. He reflected on the darkness that is hanging over the world as a whole.
“We were talking about these divisive times that we live in and lifting that up in prayer and trusting that we are going to have some reconciliation and that we are going to move forward,” Ellis said. “All these themes are present here on our campus and we are challenging ourselves to dig deeper.”
These themes were brought up in class as the choirs prepared for the show, prompting thoughtful conversations about the state of the world in between rehearsals.
Rianna Miramontez, a member of the women’s choir, remembered discussing the meaning of the song “Veni, Domine,” which means “Come, Lord.”
“We talked about how [it] applies a lot to the world right now and how God needs to come and help his people through all these troubled times,” Miramontez said.
Rather than ignoring these troubled times, the choir performers used their gift of music to try to bring light to a dark on the night of the concert, Nov. 2.
“As musicians, and Christian musicians specifically, we feel it is our responsibility and our great delight to share this light with you through music,” said Kyla Farris, a member of the Chamber Singers, near the beginning of the concert.
In honor of this light and hope, Ellis and the performers chose to dedicate their performance to the lives lost in shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.
Diamond Tate, a Concert Choir member and social justice major, gave the dedication to the victims, reminding audience members that hatred towards minority groups still affects those living in this county.
“As we sing these next songs, in dedication to those 11 lives lost, we hope that all of you are reminded of the work that we still have left to do to reach justice for this group and groups like it,” Tate said.
In light of this dedication, the final songs of the concert were filled with joy and hope for the future.
Alysee Mastromarino, a member of the Concert Choir, gave the final spoken address to the audience. “When things feel dark and grim, we can still find the light when we turn to God,” Mastromarino said.
In the closing moments of their performance, broad smiles filled the faces of the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers as they sent out a powerful proclamation of hope over the crowd, reminding them of the light that exists despite the darkness that surrounds them.
“There is so much love here, yes,” they sang.