The College of Arts and Sciences students held German, English concert

By Sarah Griffin 

On Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m., Rider’s College of Arts and Sciences presented “Heimatland,” or homeland in English, a collection of songs dedicated to Lindsey Christiansen, a former Westminster Choir College professor. 

Christiansen passed away on March 1, 2017, at the age of 71, according to a press release from the university. 

Christiansen had been teaching at Westminster Choir College since 1977 and was the voice department (now known as the piano and voice department) chair for 18 years.

According to the programs from Feb. 25, the festival, which took place at Gill Memorial Chapel, was split into six parts: European Influences, Fables and Folklore, Cabaret, Tunes from Long Ago, American Female Voices, and Tin Pan Alley.

Sienna Grinwald-Alves, a junior music education major with a concentration in studying Christopher Arenson, sang five pieces in the concert, including the opening number “Vergebliches Ständchen” or “Vain Serenade” in English, composed by Johannes Brahms.

“I actually received the songs prior to a surgery that I had,” Grinwald-Alves said. “I didn’t start learning them until my post-operation process, so I was learning them every single day and practicing for about three to four hours everyday after my post-op because I wasn’t allowed to sing.”

Grinwald-Alves said that preparing the songs right after her surgery, a laparoscopic operation to repair her stomach, was “a lot because breathing technique in singing is from the diaphragm in the belly. It was intense having that, but the doctors did what they needed to do and they found things and took them out, which helped what I had.” 

Grinwald-Alves called Christiansen a “mentor” to Westminster Choir College, adding that the festival was “a bunch of art songs” written by different composers.

Grinwald-Alves differentiated between an aria and an art song by saying “an aria is a song that’s within an opera that’s taken out and sung as a solo, but an art song is based off of what the composer wanted to write about — it could be about anything.”

Each singer in the festival, according to Grinwald-Alves, “had about four to five different songs to sing, from different eras and composers, which we performed for our mentors, the administration, family and friends at the concert.”

Grinwald-Alves explained since the Westminster Choir College moved to the Lawerencville campus in 2020, the festival, which was once the college’s biggest event, has dwindled down a bit, adding, “the students and professors on the Lawerencville campus are great overall and the campus is inclusive, but when it comes to the administration, we haven’t really felt welcomed, especially when it comes it little things, like going into the bookstore and there’s only one shirt that says Westminster Choir College.”

Evan Davis, a senior studying music theory and composition, says he decided to study classical music to “get acquainted with a lot of the music [he] heard from [his] childhood, and figure out how it all works.”

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