On Monday, Feb. 12, the University of California Riverside (UCR) Department of Music presented its annual Chamber Singers Valentines concert. Conducted by Ruth Charloff and accompanied by pianist Jonathan Keplinger, the remarkable solo performances, alongside the breathtaking choir performances, wowed the audience with every note.  On theme with the concert, members of the choir dressed mostly in black with hints of red to commemorate the Valentine’s Day holiday. 

The show opened with an enchanting all-choir performance of “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” from the musical “Guys and Dolls;” this performance set the tone for the first half of the concert, which circulated around musical theater performances. As each note progressed, different sections of the choir were able to showcase their extraordinary talent.

Tenor Pierre Godison opened the solo performance with “Some Girls” from “Once Upon This Island,” a coming-of-age musical telling a story of love, grief, hope and faith. Godison was a wonderful way to kick off the solo performance; their powerful voice captivated onlookers into the performance. 

Tiffany Chen followed Godison with her rendition of “I’m a Part of That” from the musical “The Last Five Years,” the story of two twenty-somethings falling in and out of love with each other. Although her voice was a little raspy at times, Chen captivated the audience with every note she sang. As she belted lines such as “and then he smiles, his eyes light up, and how can I complain,” the audience could feel the emotion behind her voice. 

Also performing a piece from the musical “The Last Five Years,” Zayda Pilcher put on a dramatic and expressive performance of “See I’m Smiling.” Not only was her voice demonstrative of the anger that the song commanded, but her utilization of hand gestures and facial expressions captivated the true meaning of the piece. Pilcher’s voice changed depending on the mood of the lyrics, and near the end of the performance, she even started crying to depict the deep sadness that the piece commanded. Her conveyance of deep emotions all throughout the performance had the audience at the edge of their seats with every note she sang. 

Sohini Chatterjee followed Pilcher with her rendition of “Think of Me,” from “Phantom of the Opera.” Her breathtaking opera voice truly did the song justice as she beautifully flowed between the highest of high notes to the more chest voice parts. Near the end of the piece, Chatterjee sang in acapella, and although her diction could use some work, the Snow White quality of her voice left the audience speechless. 

Soprano, Janeia Aguayo, wowed the crowd with her beautiful rendition of “My Man’s Gone Now” from the musical “Porgy and Bess.” Similar to Chatterjee, Aguayo had a breathtaking Snow White quality to her singing. As she smoothly slid up and down the octaves, her voice truthfully conveyed the sadness of the piece with every note.

Alden Duquette followed Aguayo with “Being Alive” from the musical “Company;” this song told the story of the forever single member of a friend group’s deep yearning for love. Duquette’s emotive facial expression, along with the theatrical quality of their voice, conveyed the loneliness and longing of the piece. Although he struggled a little on the higher notes, the audience could truly appreciate the way his voice glided smoothly on the deeper notes that were more suited to Duquette’s vocal range.

After Duquette’s performance, the Chambers Singers reassembled for their second group song, performing “Send in the Clowns” from the musical “A Little Night Music.” The combination of all the performer’s voices provided a dreamscape-like performance that could lull the audience into a deep sleep. Although, overall, the choir could work on their diction, the beautiful flow between each note provided a relaxing performance that anyone would be satisfied with. 

Emyr Ortiz, Assistant News Editor at the Highlander, closed off the first half of the performance with their captivating rendition of “Run Away With Me,” from the musical “The Mad Ones.” Telling the story of a boy named Adam asking a girl named Sam to run away with him, Ortiz encapsulated the emotions of the song perfectly with their spot-on facial and hand expressions. Demonstrating their wonderful breath control, Ortiz belted several amazing notes, drawing the audience further and further in with each note they sang.  

After a brief intermission, turning away from the musical theater vibe, the Chamber Singers returned onstage with a new set of modern tracks. The soft piano melody welcomed audience members into the melancholic “Make You Feel My Love,” written by Bob Dylan and arranged by Guy Bunce. The deep tones in the background by lower octaves complimented the higher pitches of the verse, and the light singing by the group brought justice to this melancholic piece.  

The Chambers singers switched places and moved into their next song, “Canta, canta mais,” translating to Sing, sing more, with music by António Carlos Jobim, lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes and arrangements by Eduardo D. Carvalho. Each layer of the choir’s voices meted together in perfect unison, creating an effortlessly angelic tone. 

Opening the second half of the solo performances, Georgina Thomas sang her rendition of “Falling Behind,” by Laufey. Thomas’s light and airy voice evoked the romantic hues of the original song. As the piano bounced along to each note she sang, the audience could hear the melancholy in the singer’s voice. 

Ron Zon followed Thomas with their emotional performance of “TV” by Billie Eilish. Zon’s voice yearned for companionship and connection as they sang each note of this depressing song detailing the tendency of this generation to numb life with stimulation. The audience could witness Zon living out the emotional experience of the lyrics throughout their performance, and at the end, the performer even broke out into tears, bringing a more real element into the sadness of this song. 

Efren Gutierrez Gonzales encapsulated the mariachi essence of Vicente Fernández in his breathtaking rendition of “Hermoso cariño,” translating to Beautiful love. With this song that can be sung from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day, Gonzalez’s deep voice complemented the piece perfectly. 

The final soloist was Alyssa DuPont, performing their rendition of “Mr. Loverman” by Ricky Montgomery. DuPont took the piece and made it her own, offering a more slowed-down performance of this beautifully sad love song. 

To close the Valentine’s Day concert, the Chambers Singers assembled one last time, singing a combination of “Something’s Coming” and “Tonight” from the musical “West Side Story.” These two songs complimented each other and the voices of the performers perfectly. As each note progressed, the tension built in their voices. The fast pace of the song left the audience reinvigorated and excited by this beautiful end to an overall amazing concert, showcasing talent from all across UCR.