With a song in their hearts and a frog in their throats


Ten minutes before yesterday’s Noontime Concert Series: Vocal Showcase was to begin, a group of performers chosen from Chicago's three choral groups gathered just outside Fulton Recital Hall. The topic of discussion: three out of the ten singers were sick and couldn’t perform. “Is everyone sick?” asked one performer. Several nodded, including one woman gripping a bag of Ricola Herb-Honey Swiss Herb Drops.

Inside the hall, accompanist Thomas Weisflog, SM'69, who also serves as the University organist, adjusted the piano bench as the 28 people in the audience quietly chattered. Then right on time, James Kallembach, the music department's director of choral activities, rose from his chair next to Weisflog and announced, “The program is pretty much scrapped.” But, he said, two students would step in to perform in place of those too ill to take the stage, giving listeners a “net loss of one.”

While the crowd was small, the singers' voices filled the room. David J. von Bargen, JD'07, kicked off the concert, belting out Jules Massenet’s "En fermant les yeux" and Gaetano Donizetti's "Quanto è bella" in his rich tenor. And third-year Kate Lipkowitz performed Luigi Arditi’s "Il Bacio." As she raised her hands upward during a final, drawn-out note, the hour ended.


Photos: (top) David J. von Bargen belts out Jules Massenet's "En fermant les yeux" from Manon; (bottom) Kate Lipkowitz sings Luigi Arditi's "Il Bacio."

February 8, 2008