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I still can't shake my old impression of the annual football concert: it is primarily a school rivalry and only tangentially a musical event, just as the football game itself has more to do with conviviality and old school ties than athletics.
Glancing down the program again, I am impressed by the versatility of both groups. Their range extends from Vittoria motets and Byrd madrigals to Negro spirituals and German drinking songs, but it is just this extension that bothers me, and I suspect many others, as we sat for two and a half hours in Sanders listening to almost thirty separate numbers. They all were admirably performed but only a very few had much musical substance; the total effect cloyed with its emptiness as much as those long-play records of "gems from the classical repertoire." Now please don't dismiss me as a fellow who can't bear anything less weighty than the Missa Solemnis. In fact, I enjoyed the football songs as much as anything else. The trouble is that almost a whole program of arranged folk songs and slight classics serves no one's interest well.
From this indictment, I would except Laudes de Saint Antoine de Padoue by Francis Poulenc, Repleti Segne Euch from Bach's Cantata 196. Harvard sang the first with an admirable attention to pitch (except for an occasional flattening in the tenors) and ended up particularly well with a vigorous Gloria Patri. Yale used a semi-chorus in the balcony in its clean and well-paced rendition of the Handl. And both groups merged to perform the Bach in a competent, if not inspiring, manner.
Certainly a football concert ought not to strive for the heights and depths, but it needn't be spread thin with kitsch, either. Perhaps both choruses should help out at the pep rally and give up for one evening their burden of reviving serious choral music. They're doing only a halfway job now.
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