The Jane Froman Singers and the Froman Treble Choir recently delighted audience members with an exceptional musical performance at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Columbia. The concert, entitled The Battle Between Good and Evil, featured a diverse arrangement of songs that explored the struggle of good and evil within ourselves and among others. Emily Edgington Andrews and Dr. Bryan Stenson, both skilled and expressive conductors, led the ensembles to create an entertaining experience that wove together choral singing in a choreographed performance. The singers were accompanied by Zachary Kierstead, the collaborative pianist, and special guests Maria Trevor, harpist, and Mary Emmons, percussion.
With a mix of somber and playful songs, the audience was engaged throughout the concert as the choirs transitioned effortlessly between pieces, used body percussion sounds (e.g., stomping, hitting their chest or thighs), and movement to tell a story through their vocal performance. Please Stay, a powerfully moving song, explores the struggle within ourselves when experiencing depression and suicidal ideation. The song, by Jake Runestad, was inspired by tweets from #IKeptLiving, where thousands of individuals detailed their stories as to why they chose life over death. Featuring solos by Desirae McCracken, Riliane Rice, and Andrew Kelley, the Froman Treble Choir sang with a passion that honored the impressive message of the piece. This emotional performance gave me goosebumps for both the ballad’s message and composition as so many of us have been directly affected by mental health issues personally or by someone we love.
In another song, the Jane Froman Singers nearly encircled the audience as they performed Rise Up O Flame, written by Christoph Praetorius and arranged by Dr. Stenson. In Fire, by Katerina Gimon, the singers’ voices and stomping reverberated around the sanctuary, ensuring the entire audience was enthralled by the spirited performance. A delightful rendition of Star Wars (John Williams is the Man) featured the tenors and basses of the Jane Froman Singers. Opening with the line, “You must use the force,” repeated repeatedly, the singers integrated the use of lightsabers and imitated the sounds of a Wookie for a playful and memorable performance warning of the dark side’s influence. Overall, the dynamic sound and engaging performance of both ensembles made a lasting impression as the audience rose for a well-deserved standing ovation.
Edgington Andrews and Stenson joined the faculty of the Visual Arts and Music Department in the School of Arts and Sciences in the fall of 2022. During this short time, they launched the Unified Voices Gospel Choir, comprised of CC students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and the Froman Treble Choir, a new student ensemble. The student choirs have grown significantly, with several members only joining the Froman ensembles this past semester, including international students from Japan and Korea.
This performance attests to the exceptional energy and passion Edgington Andrews and Stenson have brought to the Music Program at Columbia College. I am eager to see how they continue to grow the program.
Dr. Jennifer Jewell is the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia College. She joined the college in July 2022 after serving as professor and Director of the School of Social Work at Salisbury University (SU) on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she joined the faculty in 2014. Jewell received her Ph.D. in social work in 2008 from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.