Duquesne choral department performs with a fresh breath

Courtesy of Caron Daley. Duquesne's Voices of Spirit rehearses outdoors for their upcoming concert.

Andrew Kamis | staff writer

Sept. 30, 2021

Clear some time this Saturday night and ‘Just Breathe,’ with the Duquesne Choir Department’s first performance after an 18-month hiatus. After a long wait caused by the pandemic, students will be able to attend this year’s autumn choir concert live and in-person. 

The Director of Choral Activities, Caron Daley, will conduct the Voices of Spirit and Pappert Chorale this Saturday, Oct. 2 @ 7:30 p.m. Daley stated various influences that led to the creation of this concert, such as the murder of George Floyd, disease transmission and the idea of breathing as a whole.

“The inspiration came to me this summer, I think, maybe first and foremost inspired by the idea of [how] breathing transmits disease—and in singing, we breathe. We have to breathe to sing and that’s something that we felt that we haven’t been able to do because we’ve been wearing masks,” Daley said. 

The concert itself is named “Just Breathe,” and will consist of many meaningful and evoking songs focused on the concepts of resilience and hope. There is even a featured piece titled “A Path To Hope” from Canadian composer Katerina Gimon. Gimon’s song was written during the pandemic and consists of only body percussion during its entire first movement. Daley is enthusiastic for Saturday’s audience to hear the piece because it ties in with the concert’s overall theme of breathing and the performers’ inability to sing within this past year. In correspondence with the powerful music highlighted, Daley said she believes that Saturday’s performance is going to be a part of an “impactful event.” 

In addition to the music, Daley referred to the choir as a diverse community where they are able to take all of their musical talents and outside experiences and bring those aspects together to give life to their music. Quite often, students will be paired up with other students from different classes and majors. 

Students do not have to be enrolled in the Mary Pappert School of Music to be a part of the choir, according to Daley. 

“You start out with people kind of not knowing the music, not knowing each other, and you end up with a group of people who are deeply bonded to one another and very connected to the music,” Daley said. 

Daley elaborated by explaining that it would not be possible to have a choir with a single person and that every member has their own role in making the concert a success. 

“There’s this collected thing that happens when all these individuals share their music with one another, and it elevates, and it’s much greater in a way than the group of individuals would be on their own,” Daley said.

Similarly, Lindsay Vernon, a member of the Pappert Chorale, specifically stated that she likes the sense of community within the choir as well.

“I was surprised at how much I liked it in the end, and it definitely helps if you’re looking to improve your musicianship or [if] you’re just curious about what it’s like to sing in a group,” Vernon said. 

Nonetheless, this year’s concert will differ from previous performances as choir members are still facing challenges from the pandemic. For instance, the Pappert Chorale was divided into smaller sections so that there are not too many performers singing at one time.

Senior Music Education major, Laura Tamenne, is another member of the Pappert Chorale who said they have struggled with new accommodations from the pandemic.

“We have to wear a mask for the concert, which makes it a little harder to get good breaths and good breath support while you are singing,” Tamenne said. 

Daley also mentioned the difficulty of having to wear a mask while performing, saying that it is “fatiguing” for the singers to sing with a mask on.

Despite the changes set in stone for this concert, Tamenne is looking forward to the first live performance she has had in years.

“I think it’s gonna feel really good to actually have people to perform to because last semester we made Zoom performances—we would all record separate videos of ourselves and then mash them all together. We didn’t actually perform together,” Tamenne said.

While many students like Vernon enjoy the association between their fellow choir members, Tamenne appreciates the feeling of accomplishment after each rehearsal. Tamenne announced that she is able to feel herself and the whole choir become more confident with the music after practicing it. She also said that it is “more fun to perform” when there is higher assurance in what she is singing.

The Pappert Chorale and Voices of Spirit choirs are very excited to once again share their vocal talents this upcoming Saturday, Oct. 2 at the Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh. Tickets will be sold outside of the main entrance for $10 in cash with an expected showtime of 7:30 p.m.