SMC choral concert Friday at Mathews Conference Center East

Published 10:57 am Friday, April 21, 2017

“Counterpoints,” Southwestern Michigan College’s spring choir concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, takes place in a different location and is more thematic than can usually be expected from Director of Choral Activities David Carew.

And if you missed the Jazz at the Beckwith benefit in Dowagiac on St. Patrick’s Day, The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and “In My Life” will be reprised.

Carew conducts Concert Choir, Select Voices and the Jazz Ensemble at Mathews Conference Center East on SMC’s Dowagiac campus.

“Counterpoints” musically are two melodies played in combination, but Carew expands that notion by pairing choral performances with projected visuals selected to respond to the rhythms and contours of the voices.

Beginning with (pre) Renaissance and Baroque works, musical selections flow from traditional to contemporary pieces.

“We’re doing my favorite madrigal to get early music in,” Carew said. “That piece in particular has a lot of counterpoint, a very broad term for two things coming together.”

“I really like that intimate space (MCCE),” Carew said. “It’s very friendly to singing. We’ve done Dogwood events over there that worked really nicely.”

Singers will be positioned between video screens, but Carew is still deciding how to arrange audience seating.

“We’re doing 12 or 13 songs with images — some from the period the piece is from, but also things I visualize when I listen to music. Sometimes, when you listen to a compelling musical performance, you get taken somewhere to an experience beyond ‘that sounds great.’ Beyond my interpretation, (student) Johntre Vaughn is taking images and putting his stamp on them.”

More in the vein of Americana folk music, Carew said, will be “No Mark,” from Colorado composer Cecil Effinger’s 1963 “Four Pastorales.”

“It has an a cappella choir with oboe accompaniment,” Carew said, though SMC substitutes flute.

“The piece references violent events, like the Casey Jones train crash (of 1900), the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville (in Virginia) and (the Battle of) Little Big Horn (Custer’s Last Stand),” Carew said. “All of these catastrophic events, now there’s just corn. The flute gives it a haunting sound.”

No Mark concerns an airman lost in World War II, setting side by side a tone of loss and beauty.

Using the natural world as metaphor, each poem moves through darkness, difficulty, depression and isolation toward respite, hope, connection and peace.

“Look Up, Look Down” is a sorrowful Appalachian song referencing a person who lost their love to a train accident, Carew said, adding, “They work well together.”

Another set’s theme is evening, including “Sure on This Shining Night” by poet James Agee; “A Summer Night and You and Paradise,” a poem by Garrison Keillor, host of Minnesota Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” from 1974-2016; and “Some Enchanted Evening,” featuring baritone Thomas Melcher, of Watervliet.

On Sunday, April 23, at 4 p.m. Carew’s chamber group performs at ArtsBridge at First Presbyterian Church, 475 Green Ave., Benton Harbor.

“We’re doing a concert with the Hamptons — (Corey Sr., Corey Jr. and) Cameron was Sebastian” the crab in SMC’s March 2016 production of “The Little Mermaid.”

ArtsBridge, which celebrates art and music to bridge community diversity in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, also features oil and photo artwork by Bill and Pam Rothwell. Bill Rothwell teaches graphic design at SMC.

Southwestern Michigan College is a public, residential and commuter, community college, founded in 1964. The college averages in the top 10 percent nationally for student academic success based upon the National Community College Benchmark Project. Southwestern Michigan College strives to be the college of first choice, to provide the programs and services to meet the needs of students, and to serve our community. The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges.