Annual winter concert returns to Queens College

The Queens College Choral Society is set to host its 77th Annual Winter Concert.
Courtesy of Queens College Choral Society
By Angelica Acevedo

The 77th Annual Winter Concert, performed by the Queens College Choral Society Dec. 16, offered renditions of Mozart’s “Requiem” and a New Age choral piece called “1001 Voices: A Symphony for a New America.”

The Winter Concert was held at Colden Auditorium on the Queens College Campus at 8 p.m. It began with Mozart’s classic, which is his last work and considered “one of the supreme achievements in choral literature,” according to QCCS.

The community chorus delivered a mesmerizing performance, with impeccable harmony among the orchestra, chorus and soloists. Soprano Deborah Carter, one of the soloists, received great applause as well as commendations by fans after the show for her stunning vocals.

“You were wonderful. Maybe I’ll see you at the Met,” a woman said to Carter, whom she in return graciously thanked.

Carter, a first-year graduate student at Queens College, had sung in the community choral group in previous years.

“I’ve been singing for some time, but not classical music,” Carter said. “I think the music is beautiful. Mozart is one of the greatest composers ever and I’m very honored to sing some of his music.”

The final performance of the night, “1001 Voices: A Symphony for a New America,” was starkly distinct from Mozart’s “Requiem.”

The choral piece — which was commissioned by Constantine Kitsopoulos, the music director of Queens Symphony — was written by Judith Sloan, a librettist and artist, and composed by Frank London, a Grammy-Award winning trumpeter, in 2009. According the QCCS, the story is meant to showcase the many generations of immigrants that have immigrated to Queens and how they have consequently been pushed in and out of the neighborhoods within the diverse borough.

James John, the music director of QCCS, made some remarks about the piece before the performance.

“It’s themes are timeless … they’re even more potent, important [and] meaningful at this particular point in time,” John said.

He went on to say that Sloan contacted him earlier in the year to ask if he’d like to do this piece again. He said he was, “intrigued for a number of reasons.”

“You’ll see as we go through the piece there’s one particular passage — I don’t know if you recall in January when the travel ban was so haphazardly implemented and people were held out of the airports in New York City and there were crowds of people chanting ‘let them in, let them in’ — you’ll hear in the second movement of this piece, the chorus chants similarly ‘let them in, let them in,’” John said.

Sloan was among the six spoken word performers, along with an Arabic drummer. The show also had animated projections with the phrases of the seven different languages that were spoken throughout the show (English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Portuguese and Russian), many images of the street name signs and neighborhood pictures of Queens.

It was a powerful Queens story about the hurdles immigrants must face once they are here, which in the end received a standing ovation.

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