(Above: The Motet Singers perform two concerts each year, in the sanctuary of the historic Ebbert Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Springfield; photos by Randi Bjornstad)
By Randi Bjornstad
For more than 20 years, the Motet Singers have been melding their various voices into what sounds like one, turning their attention in their twice-yearly concerts to music that ranges from the sublime to the everyday.
They’ll be doing it again on May 7 when they perform their annual spring concert — the other happens in December — and the 18 songs on the program will range from sacred to colloquial.
The six sets of three songs each have interesting titles: Sacred; Americana; A Woman’s Journey; Stages of a Relationship; Bountiful Grace; and World.
They can be as intense as the first set’s “O Frondens Virga,” its words written in Latin by the medieval nun Hildegard von Bingen and set to music by modern composer Drew Collins, or as jazzy as the familiar “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home.”
Most are sung in English, but there also are offerings in Basque, indigenous Australian, Arabic and Spanish.
The last piece on the program is sung in no language at all, but instead employs a French-Canadian method called “mouth music” that is sung using syllables that mimic musical instruments.
The singers are divided into four vocal ranges, selected by audition to achieve the most nearly perfect blend to make their voices undistinguishable.
Musically, the term “motet” dates to Medieval and Renaissance times, distinguished primarily from the better known madrigals by language — songs in Latin were called motet, while those in vernacular languages such as French, English and Italian were termed madrigals.
The members of the Motet Singers are Becky Bailey, Sara Brandt, Brooke Cagno, Julia Heydon, Siera Kaup, Cialin Mills-Ostwald, Cynthia Stenger Riplinger, Maureen Robeson, Laura Swanson, Sara Swanson and Ingrid Wendt. The artistic advisor is Christopher McGinley.
The Motet Singers 21st Annual Spring Concert
When: 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 7 (doors open for ticket sales and seating at 3:30 p.m.)
Where: Ebbert Memorial United Methodist Church, 532 C St. in downtown Springfield
Tickets: $15 at the door