Music to My Ears: Can you “Handel” the “Magnificat”

FullSizeRenderHey ya’ll! I’m Vicki: class of 2019, decidedly undecided concentration-wise (but it’s between music, neuroscience, and economics), and your blogger for the Music to My Ears column. I’ll be writing all about Brown’s diverse and bustling music scene each week, so stay tuned!

Excuse the awful pun, my sense of humor is notoriously nonexistent.

Last Friday night was the Brown University Chorus’s performance! The impressive program included  J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243, as well as G.F. Handel’s Messiah (yup, that’s the famous Hallelujah chorus).

The chorus is one of the oldest groups on campus, and the students are drawn from all concentrations within the University. The choir gets to do insane things like tour in other countries: most recently, they returned from a 2015 concert tour of Cuba and a 2011 concert tour of Costa Rica. They’ve also been to Vienna, Prague, Argentina, Uruguay, Russia, Finland, Italy, Iberia, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Scandinavia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore!

The student chorus was joined by the professional Orchestra of Period Instruments, to match the Baroque repertoire of the concert. For those of you who aren’t sure what that is, it means that the musicians play using instruments that are built to mimic the instruments of the time in which Bach and Handel were composing. A fascinating detail: the strings of the instruments are quite literally made from the natural fiber found on in the walls of animal intestines. Less grotesquely, the period trumpet has no valves! That’s right, the trumpeter nails each note solely using mouth action.

There were some awesome soloists, as well. Soprano Emily Noël, countertenor Bryan Pollock, tenor Sean Lair, and baritone Jacob Scharfman were gave shining performances in collaboration with Choir Director Frederick Jodry (who, as a side note, played the harpsichord while standing, while simultaneously conducting the entire ensemble!).

Questions, comments, or concerns? I want to hear ’em. Seriously! Shoot me an email at


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