Chamber Singers featured at 34th annual Cathedral Christmas Concert


Courtesy Photo

Audience members pack the Basilica of St. Fidelis before the start of the concert. The Basilica is commonly referred to as "the Cathedral of the Plains" and is 108 years old. It is also considered to be one of the eight wonders of Kansas.

The 34th annual Cathedral Christmas Concert was held at the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria on Dec. 8.

The concert primarily featured the talent of Fort Hays State University’s music students and faculty. The Fort Hays Singers, Smoky Hill Chorale and FHSU’s Concert Choir, all conducted by Dr. Terry Crull and accompanied by Pam McGowne, were presented that night. Faculty performances also took place between the large group numbers.

Hays High’s Chamber Singers, conducted by Alex Underwood, were among the guest ensembles at the concert. The group performed “Ave Maria, O Auctrix Vite” by Hildegard von Bingen, a prominent female artist from the Middle Ages.

Underwood divided the verses of the song into individual solos for each of the Chamber Singers with everyone joining on the response.

“I knew that [the Hildegard piece] was a style of music that high school students rarely have exposure to,” Underwood said. “I divided up the lines of the chant so they could share the work, and it’s also more interesting for the audience to hear different voices sing different sections.”

Underwood said the learning process went slower than anticipated due to the details of the solos relying on each individual singer. However, he said the Chamber Singers were able to pull it off.

“My objective was the same as it always is: ‘Let’s get them singing different works and get them comfortable enough so it doesn’t seem totally foreign to them,'” Underwood said. “We invested the time, and I thought it worked beautifully,” Underwood said.