Brooklyn Tech’s Songbirds Sing Black Mountain Songs

By DivineAsia Miller

The small and intimate Brooklyn Academy of Music Harvey venue sets the stage for a warm and spirited performance by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Upon entering, your eyes drift from the charmingly worn carved walls, to the geometric screen suspended above the band behind the stage, and finally down to the thin man stretching in the center of the stage. Without warning,the lights dim and choristers emerge as you view the spectacle from the intricately carved brass banister that keeps you from plunging about 30 feet into the crowd below you.

The choristers resonate confidence and a passion for music as they rendezvous on the stage. Among them is a familiar face: Deanna Goudelias, a senior at Brooklyn Tech and a chorister in the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC). The conductor, with an elegant motion of her hands, begins the show.

Black Mountain Songs (BMS), sung by the BYC, is a collection of songs serving as a tribute to the Black Mountain College, a school that inspired many of the liberal arts colleges in America. The show lasts from November 20th to November 23rd, for the first and last time in this country. The purpose of the show was to recreate the feeling of the Black Mountain College in all its glory for mostly hipster audiences in the city, and actually features 2 alumni of the college in the show itself.

There is no single genre to speak of as the show includes several types of songs that leave the audience reeling and shuddering in anticipation on what song would grace the lips of the BYC next.

The aesthetic of the show is strikingly unique; the choristers are clad in mostly white, but each sports a colored accent. There is one girl with a bronze belt, another with blue pants, and a final one with brown shoes. There are only a few boys in the crowd of singers. Between songs, a chorister or two will leave the crowd (while the others rearrange the stage) to perform a theatrical vignette of Black Mountain College. At points, one of the alumni joins them from a rocking chair on the left. Of course, center stage, her back to us always, the conductor grants visual to the sounds the audience is hearing.

Different lights imbue the white on stage with color, and different images flash on the geometric screen depending on what song is being performed. The lights bathe the chorus in a warm golden orange when the chorus sings a cheerful and nostalgic song, and the screen shows frenetic drawings of loops when the song is chaotic. Two songs were accompanied by interpretive dance with the routines that were humorously confounding, perhaps intentionally so.

Shariful Khan ’15 declares that The Black Mountain Songs themselves were, “Simultaneously terrifying and breathless. [They] made me wish I had a voice that didn’t make babies cry.” The sound of the chorus, both full and unified, is indescribably perfect. You feel the soul of the songs echoing in the chambers of your chest as you listen, and while you can’t understand what they’re saying on several occasions, you can instinctively grasp the meaning of the song from the feeling that the chorus imparts. The songs themselves were absolutely gorgeous and flawlessly executed, and the end of the show seems to come too soon.

Deanna Goudelias ’15, who nonchalantly delivered an excellent solo, said that the show was “The best experience of [her] life.” She continued on saying, “This project has inspired me in every aspect of my life. I have learned lessons that I will use for the rest of my life.” Her statement definitely showed in her performance. At the end of BMS, as she stood on stage with what she calls “a family” for her, tears sprang to Goudelias’ eyes as the crowd gave the chorus a standing ovation that lasted more than a full minute. The show was unforgettable, the feeling of regret awaits you if you missed it. However, one song bird has stated that the songs will be available as an album next year. Start saving Tech students, for this is an album well worth your money.

 

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