The voices of over 50 Ramapo students joined together in song on Sunday night during the Ramapo Chorale’s annual concert at Old Paramus Church in Ridgewood, N.J. Dr. Lisa Lutter directed the performance while the group’s assistant director, Jonathan Palmer Lakeland, accompanied the ensemble on piano.
Titled “Caravan,” the concert performed renditions of both traditional and contemporary African and African-American compositions. Lutter explained the theme was only partly inspired by the group’s upcoming tour of Ghana.
“‘Caravan’ is a trip, you think of people forming a line and making a caravan, so that was definitely a good image for taking a bunch of students from Ramapo Chorale to Africa,” Lutter said.
“But I was also inspired in the summer,” Lutter continued, “when we were already having tragic killings reported by the news and what seemed to be racially motivated violence. The demonstrations that were happening, and the terrorist attacks in Paris.”
In light of the violence she saw portrayed in the media over the course of the past year, Lutter wished to make inclusivity and acceptance the central themes of “Caravan.”
“Everyone that came to this country came in a caravan. This is a nation of immigrants,” she said.
Steven Perry, the dean of Ramapo’s School of Contemporary Arts, attended the concert.
“It’s a beautiful space. The acoustics are exceptional,” Perry said, referring to the performance’s venue.
“You can have singers be very soft, and we still hear them. You get a whole range, and I think they must be able to hear one another very well, because they blend their voices really well in that space,” he continued.
Perry, a member of the University of Indiana’s glee club during his time there as a student, believes Chorale offers an enriching and rewarding experience for its singers.
“It’s a great community builder, I think. The students who participate in the chorale at Ramapo really commit to doing the work together,” Perry said, “and I think that’s why they get such a wonderful result by the time they give a public performance. They really work very hard and they want to do well.”
President of Ramapo Chorale, junior Ali Castellucci, was excited to return for her second performance at Old Paramus Church.
"You're very in tune with the audience," she said, referring to the building's atmosphere. The highlight of Castellucci's night occurred during the beginning of the show:
"The African pieces, the ones we sang in the beginning – I just loved those pieces. They were so moving and powerful, and you could tell the audience was moved by them, as well. I looked out and saw people with their eyes closed, some had tears," she said.
Current and former members of the Ramapo Chorale were grateful to perform in the Church, surrounded by friends and family.
“I did enjoy performing. My favorite part was probably singing the Christmas songs,” sophomore Tracy Sherman said, referring to the holiday carols which brought “Caravan” to a close.
“Chorale in my life has always been a family to me. I’ve met some pretty awesome people that I can talk to and hang out with outside of it,” she continued.
“This is the first semester since I came to Ramapo that I haven’t been in Chorale, so I was excited to see the concert from an audience perspective,” said Rena Krogulski, a junior who has performed at the Church in years past.
“It’s cool to sing in a place that has a long history and know that you get to be a little part of its story,” she said.
The Ramapo Chorale’s CantaNOVA ensemble will be appear alongside Grammy award-winning fiddler Eileen Ivers in the Sharp Theater this Sunday, in two shows scheduled to begin at 3 and 7 p.m.