By Jeffrey Blackwell/Memorial Church Communications
Generations of Harvard University Choir member voices filled the sanctuary, Appleton Chapel and even the hallways of Memorial Church last weekend in a musical reunion of Harvard’s celebrated chorus.
More than 100 alumni from across the country attended the three-day event, reuniting old friends and providing the opportunity to make music again in the place where lasting memories and friendships were created.
Choir members representing Harvard classes from the past 60 years — including one member of the Class of 1958 — took part in events throughout the weekend. Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville, who served as University choirmaster and organist at the Memorial Church from 1990 to 2003, also attended to share the conducting and rehearsing duties.
More than 100 University Choir alumni pose for a group shot with current members of the University Choir on the porch of Memorial Church. Photos by Jeffrey Blackwell/Memorial Church Communications
“It was wonderful to have everyone back, making music in a place very special to all of them and to the collective group,” said Edward Elwyn Jones, the Gund University Choirmaster and Organist. “Many people in the Choir, the Choral Fellows and also the Sunday Choir, spend a significant amount of their time in this building and grow to love it as a center, not only for their music-making but also their social lives. It’s wonderful to welcome them back home here.”
The reunion was organized by the University Choir Alumni Committee. The festivities kicked off with a dinner Friday evening. On Saturday, former choir members took part in a morning rehearsal, followed in the afternoon by a performance of Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, conducted by Somerville.
At Sunday Services, Alumni singers joined with the members of the current University Choir to sing Nun danket alle Gott, SWV 418 by Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672); Give All to Love by Memorial Church Composer Carson Cooman ’04; and Hear My Words, Ye People by Hubert Parry (1848–1918).
“Splendid making music together with nearly 100 alumni returning, alumni from Ed’s time, alumni from the time when I was university organist and choirmaster, and also a number of the alumni from my distinguished predecessor John Ferris,” said Somerville. “It’s a weekend of remembrance and looking to the future, and reconnecting.”
University Choir alumni sing Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, conducted by former University Choirmaster and Organist Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville.
Somerville recently made a generous gift to the choir in support of the Choral Fellows, a group of 16 choir members who sing at Morning Prayers every weekday during the academic term and at special concerts throughout the year.
“I am honored and humbled by Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville's generous gift to the Choral Fellows, an institution which he founded,” said Jones. “He is a tireless supporter of what I’m doing at the church.”
Alexandra Amati-Camperi, a professor of music at the University of San Francisco, was a member of the choir in the mid-1990s while pursuing her Ph.D. At the time, she was pregnant with her son Ariel and gave birth to him just a few hours after her final Christmas Carols service. Her son joined the choir 20 years later, and both attended the reunion.
“We got to sing together for a semester when I was a visiting scholar Spring 2015 and that was special and awesome beyond what words can describe,” said Amati-Camperi Ph.D. ’95. “UChoir is our special place and singing together at reunions brings it home regularly with a vengeance. I believe we are the only bi-generational pair in UChoir.”
University Choir members sing together with alumni during the reunion weekend at Memorial Church.
Somerville said providing an opportunity for generations of choir members to sing together is an important intention of the reunion weekends.
“I know it is a very emotional experience for many of the singers who have been away from here for quite some time,” said Somerville. “To come back together and sing in this space brings back many, many happy memories. What a wonderful thing it is for the generations to get to know one another.”