Brothers Sing on March 16

Amy Mevorach
Boston Saengerfest Men’s Chorus
Issue Date: 
March, 2019
Article Body: 

When the tenor of politics becomes divisive, the track to harmony, for some, is completely clear. “Every human being has an instrument,” said Linus Travers, who sings bass in the Boston Saengerfest Men’s Chorus. Consisting of about 60 singers, thea Boston Saengerfest Men’s Chorus is conducted by Tom Berryman who is also the organist at Christ Lutheran Church in Natick. On March 16, the Saengerfest chorus will harmonize with the Natick High School Men’s Chorus, the Morehouse College Glee Club, and the Boston Children’s Chorus Young Men’s Ensemble in a concert called “Brothers, Sing On,” accompanied by pianist Julia Scott Carey. The concert will begin at 8 PM at Natick High School. Tickets are available at
The purpose of the concert, said Travers, is twofold. “We are showcasing a tradition of choral singing from the remote past to the present. We are also putting male voices together and singing together in harmony and discipline. We harmonize in the best sense of the word.”
David Morrow, director of the Morehouse College Glee Club in Atlanta, a choir who has soundly graced many historical moments – Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral and Jimmy Carter’s inauguration among them – concurs. “A choir represents the fact that we have to work together. You can’t sing in a choir without working together.” Morehouse, an Historically Black College, has a rich tradition of choral music including spirituals, African-American and African folk music, and classical choral literature. The Glee Club, equivalent to a concert choir, will share with the Natick audience the pieces “Canticle” by David Conte and “Got a Mind to Do Right,” a folk tune Morrow heard in a rural Georgia church and arranged for the men’s chorus.
A chorus of male voices combines a smaller range than the full human vocal potential, and instead of the traditional choral designations of SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) the voices split into TTBB (tenor one, tenor two, bass one and bass two). The effect may be similar to zooming in on a map so that one area comes into clearer focus. The lower tones, which are harder to hear and can be muffled by higher pitches, have a chance to carry melodies and support a rich resonance.
Brendan O’Loughlin sings with the Natick High School Men’s Chorus under the leadership of Kate Burns. “Having similar ranges allows us to spend more time on dynamics, blends, and cohesiveness.” O’Loughlin, a junior at NHS, joined the chorus his sophomore year, and found “a group of friends... a group of brothers. I was astounded by how welcoming they were.”
What about people who do not identify with a gender binary? Travers said that the issue hasn’t arisen in their chorus, but that in general “it’s very common to have women singing first tenor part. Here are the notes – if you can hit ‘em, you can hit ‘em.” The world today, he said, is “different from the world I inhabited, but the principles are the same.” The principle of the men’s chorus is to create a certain type of sound, which has “a weight and density to it.”
The choruses who will unite voices at Brothers, Sing On! span multiple generations from teens to a 90-something retired WWII pilot. Many members of Saengerfest began singing in their college Glee Clubs and continued singing for the next 50 or more years. O’Loughlin is looking forward to singing with more experienced choristers and with the large group. “I’ll absolutely keep singing for the rest of my life. It’s the thing that brings me the most joy in life. It’s how I’ve met my best friends.”
The Saengerfest Chorus will hold an open sing on June 10 from 7-9 PM at the Christ Lutheran Church. Anyone is welcome to try it out. “There’s a sense of harmony missing from so many parts of our lives. I believe very strongly in the value of people singing together,” said Travers. He notes that the effects are musical, social, emotional and physiological. “I come home and I’m floating.”
Almost as if he had no trebles at all.