“Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night...” so begins one of the most iconic love songs ever written. That sentiment is also true for a special night of choral concert music to be presented by the Sterling College Choirs: “Bernstein and Sondheim.” The concert, featuring the Concert Choir and Highland Singers, will be at the Sterling United Presbyterian Church at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
The performance will feature choral works by both Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, two of the best-loved and most influential figures in modern American music. The two combined to create one of the best-loved musicals ever – West Side Story. Bernstein composed the music and Sondheim the lyrics. Their collaboration on that show is what inspired Sterling College music director Marisa Callan to put their works together for a single, special concert.
Callan said, “Bernstein’s innovative style blended classical, jazz, and popular music, bridging the gap between classical and contemporary genres. Sondheim’s complex and sophisticated musical compositions, coupled with his thought-provoking and introspective lyrics, have profoundly impacted the development of American musical theater. Their contributions have shaped modern American music by blending different styles, tackling social issues, and pushing the artistic boundaries of musical composition and storytelling.”
Sunday’s concert will include songs from ten of Sondheim’s musicals including Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Follies, and Company. The Concert Choir will perform “Sondheim! A Choral Celebration” which was arranged by Mac Huff. Over 20 students will be featured as soloists in the concert.
Callan said, “A favorite piece of mine, and probably the most challenging, is ‘A Choral Quilt,’ to be performed by The Highland Singers. The song interweaves several choral pieces by Bernstein, layering text and melodies to connect the different pieces.” Some of the songs included in the medley are “Take Care of This House” from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide, and “Our House” from Peter Pan.
Bernstein and Sondheim’s works encompass a wide range of musical styles, from classical and operatic elements to contemporary and jazzy melodies. This diversity provides an opportunity for choral performers and the audience to explore and experience a rich tapestry of musical genres within a single concert.
Accompanying the 42-voice choir will be Dr. Christie George of the Sterling College Music Department. There is no admission charge for the concert which will also be livestreamed on the Facebook page of the Sterling United Presbyterian Church.
Central Kansas students in the Sterling College Concert Choir and Highland Singers include from Sterling: Aubrey Anderson, Bryson Brownlee, Caleb Brownlee, Macy Brownlee, Luke Harding, Bekah Parish, Natalie Schweizer, Noah Svaty, and Cedric Wilson. Students from the Hutchinson area include Mary Little, Rachel Thomson, Josh Morris, Taggert Reiss, and Mariana Inchauriga. Robbie Stansbury and Lily Stansbury are from Lyons while Sean Gorman and Anya Billings are from McPherson. Josh Allen, Inman; Brayden Keeler, Nickerson; Jordan Flores, Lindsborg; Zeke Thompson, Newton; Hannah Ellis, Cunningham; and Cooper Collins, Pretty Prairie are also among the Sterling singers.
Students from outside the Central Kansas area include Keeley Coon and Rose Inman-Hall from Eureka; Katie Lumbert and Makenzy Carter from Wichita; Philip Starnes, Wellington; Christian Allmond, Clearwater; Annie Talbert, Scott City; Kurt Keegan, Burlington; Abi Sawin, Washington; and Addie Struckoff, Stockton.
Out of state students in choir this year include Abigail Walcher, Colorado Springs, CO; Anna Cortez, El Paso, TX; Cate Gutteridge, Norman, OK; Jason Boley, Angelton, TX; Janine Owen, Natick, MA, and Olivia and Sophia Godfrey, Korea.