World Renowned Vocal Ensemble to “Knock You Out of Your Chair”


A world-renowned vocal ensemble brought their award-winning talent to campus in the hopes of breaking down walls and opening ears, hearts, and minds.

Lorelei Ensemble, based in Boston, consists of nine women who, according to the Boston Music Intellegencer, display the “elegance, power, grace and beauty of the human voice.” Their performance, entitled “Without Walls,” took place Thursday, Oct. 17 in the Chapel.

Lorelei has performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall and Harvard; after visiting Williston the group traveled to Cornell. Lorelei has also collaborated with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, and Odyssey Opera. They’ve received praise from the Boston Globe, and recently won the Dale Warland Singers Commissioning Award presented by Chorus America.

The Willistonian talked by phone with Beth Willer, Artistic Director, prior to the group’s visit. Willer spoke to the group’s importance, especially as an all-female ensemble working in a space traditionally dominated by men. One of the group’s objectives, in performing its music, she said, is to “change the way people think about singing and to knock down boundaries of what is set for women as performers.”

Vocal ensembles, Willer continued, have the power to affect real change, not just inside stuffy recital halls.
“I think that we all believe intensely in the power of ensemble signing to make change,” Willer said. “To make cultural change, to inspire personal change of heart and mind, and to change just the way we approach the world.”
The “nine strong, groundbreaking women” who make up the group serve as proof that pursuing a career in the arts as a woman, and succeeding, is a viable path.

“[If] a young person believes it is possible” to follow the group’s lead, Willer said, “I think that is the most powerful thing we can do.”

Part of Lorelei’s “breaking down” goal, beyond serving as a model for what’s possible, is to dispel myths or long-held – but unfounded – beliefs that “classical” music is stodgy and rooted in the past.

“We’re not performing quote unquote classical music,” Willer explained, “but artistic music we think is interesting. The way that we perform, we project our individual personalities and bring our own energy to the stage.”

Willer said the group’s “incredibly new” vocal style often incorporates elements of opera, folk, and R&B.

“There are elements of familiarity, but [we can] also knock you out of your chair,” Willer said. “We’re trying to change that fear that classical music is inaccessible.”