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College Chorus Set for World Premiere of Collaborative Audiovisual Performance

Members of chorus chorus stand on risers in front of large glass window

The College Chorus, seen here in 2018, will join ensembles at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Hamilton colleges for the world premiere of Twenty/Twenty.

On Friday, Dec. 11, the Department of Music and Dance at Swarthmore College will present Twenty/Twenty, a collaborative COVID-19-era work for choir and digital video in which choir singers from four colleges act as authors, videographers, and performers. The performance will be the world premiere of the newly commissioned work by composer Scott Ordway of Rutgers University.

Swarthmore choir members joined ensembles from Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Hamilton colleges in an audiovisual project that could be taught and performed completely online, if necessary. At the start of the fall semester, nearly 100 singers from all four colleges were asked to complete the sentence “One year ago today, I did not know that … .”

Ordway then compiled their responses into a final text and completed the composition in early October. The choirs immediately began work on the music, with each singer preparing six recordings, aided only by a click track and their intensive preparation with their respective conductor.

College Chorus Director Joseph Gregorio says he’s grateful to Haverford Choral Director Nathan Zullinger for inviting Swarthmore to join in commissioning Ordway and producer/engineer Alex Brusencev to create Twenty/Twenty.

“We have been glad for the opportunity to participate in the genesis of this meaningful work, which allows performers and listeners alike a chance to reflect on the trying, tumultuous year 2020 has been,” Gregorio says.

Adds Jenna Takach ’24, of San Antonio, Texas: “Being a first-year in the chorus, I was really nervous about getting to know other singers in a virtual environment. Reading the score for Twenty/Twenty helped me realize how similar all of our experiences were, and the whole experience made me feel so much more connected to my fellow singers.”

Twenty/Twenty will be available for viewing on Friday, Dec. 11, at noon ET.

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