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Concert choir approaches congregation

Members of the UND Concert Choir perform Saturday at St. Mary's church. Jacob Notermann/ Dakota Student

Jacob Noternmann

Members of the UND Concert Choir perform Saturday at St. Mary's church. Jacob Notermann/ Dakota Student

Jacob Notermann, Staff Writer

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The UND Concert Choir sang to fans at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Thursday night.

Just as the sun fell out of the sky, about 100 people gathered at St. Mary’s to witness the young talent in the city.

The choir wasted no time grabbing the audience’s attention by marching two by two down the main aisle to the front of the church.

As though the group was synchronized like a flock of birds, they immediately jumped into “God is Gone Up.” The piece, continuing to forcefully grab the ears of the audience, was sung with powerful, opera-like voices sung with cannon between the men and women. The singers were accompanied by an organ, the entirety of the sights and sounds were appropriate for the setting of the concert.

The following two pieces, “In Paradisum” and “The Gallant Weaver” softened the intensity in the building. Again, these two pieces displayed the beauty of the voices and the building they were in. Some voices were high enough, you could feel the note in your ear.

With the harmony amongst the group and the wide range of voices, the voices would carry through the church the way God intended.

The fourth piece was “Sensamayá.” Its tone and message reminded the audience of the anti-hero.

Conductor Dean Jilek described the song as “basically a voodoo song out to kill an evil snake.”

The piece was as close to opera as one could ask for that night. The lyrics were not English, but one could still interpret the tone of the story the song was telling.

The piece began with the low rumbling of the piano. The females would sing the high notes quickly and sharply, while the males sang as low as they could.

As they went on, the singing turned to powerful storytelling voices. The voices and the piano building with excitement until an ultimate climax in the action. You didn’t know what happened, but you wanted to.

The singers themselves would indicate the emotion in the story. Many of them sang with stern and angry looks.

A brief intermission followed the piece. It gave the audience a chance to recover from sitting on church pews and to check for snakes.

In song, the group’s flow and harmony showed how well they work together. However, the audience witnessed a glimpse of what the true personalities of the group are.

Immediately following the intermission, Jilek stood in front of the congregation and noticed he had left his book in the back room.

“One minute,” Jilek said as he disappeared from the church, leaving the choir to fill the time.

“How’s everybody doing tonight?” one member said, while another whistled the theme song to Jeopardy.

After a short time for comic relief, it was back to business.

The closing three songs were accompanied by UND’s classical guitar instructor Thomas Anderson.

The final piece, “Four Civil War Poems,” was a triathlon but with four movements. A quadrathlon.

While the majority of the songs were roughly five minutes, including “The Lark” with three movements, each of the four movements in War Poems were about five minutes a piece. Thus making the finale a lengthy 20 minute piece.

Josh Strehlo, bass, has been singing since sixth grade. He said the group knew what they had to do to complete the piece.

“A lot of practice, a lot of endurance and you can only do that by practicing,” Strehlo said. “So we begin at the beginning of the semester and we practice really hard throughout the semester.”

When the endless piece was done, the choir’s 37 members left the church left the same way they came in: marching two by two down the main aisle of the church.

Jacob Notermann is a staff writer for the Dakota Student. He can be reached at

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Concert choir approaches congregation