The Meredith Choral Program and the Capital City Girls’ Choir (CCGC) are presenting “Grounded,” a choral concert at Jones Chapel, Saturday, Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. This event will feature special guest Derek Lee Ragin and the world premiere of Timothy Takach’s “Mantra.” There is also a reception scheduled to follow the concert.
This event is set to feature the performances of Meredith’s three choral ensembles, Chorus, Encore! and Chorale, along with the Cantabile of Capitol City Girls Chorus, a high school ensemble. The Meredith Chorale is a vocal performance ensemble, consisting of 30-35 women. They embark on spring tours annually and give various concerts on- and off-campus. The Meredith Chorus is available for all students to join with no audition required. Encore! is an a cappella ensemble consisting of eight to ten women who sing early music, jazz, barbershop, gospel and other close harmony music.
Dr. Shannon Gravelle, Meredith Director of Choral Activities and Music Education Program Coordinator, explained the theme of “Grounded.” She said it was chosen because “it is a theme that threads through all of the music being sung... one as grounded, literally. You are on the ground. You live on this ground, this earth. You explore it. You walk it. You care for it. Number two as grounded, figuratively. Our goal as humans is to be grounded in who we are—in our thoughts, in our beliefs, in our communities.”
Derek Ragin, the concert’s special guest, is regarded as one of the foremost countertenors of the present day. He is known for his work in the 1994 biopic film Farinelli, in which he lent his voice to help replicate the voice of the titular Farinelli, a celebrated Italian castrato singer who is considered to be one of the greatest singers in the history of opera. Additionally, his work has won a Grammy for his recording of Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalm.” Ragin has also performed throughout the U.S. and Europe, with recitals at Wigmore Hall in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The premiere piece, “Mantra,” was originally a solo piece written by Timothy Takach. Takach reached out to Dr. Gravelle last spring and asked if she would have any interest in premiering the treble arrangement of “Mantra.” Dr. Gravelle says that she “immediately said yes. He’s a fantastic composer and it’s an incredibly powerful piece. The text is by Sierra DeMulder, a twotime National Poetry Slam Champion, performing poet and mental health advocate.”
The CCGC is a vocal and music training program that was founded in 1987 and was one of the nation’s first choral music education programs for young people. It is based in Raleigh and is part of the Meredith Department of Music’s community outreach program. It hosts weekly training sessions and regularly performs concerts at Meredith and throughout the Triangle Area.
To see these featured performances, visit Jones Chapel on Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. As Dr. Gravelle said, “Singing is an experience. It’s not simply something only a few people do—we all do it. Singing is powerful. Music is powerful.”
By Milin Santizo-Escobar, Contributing Writer