‘We are dedicated to words that matter’: Grammy-winning choir The Crossing to perform at the college tomorrow


Donald Nally, conductor of The Crossing, has worked with choirs around the globe and currently is the John W. Beattie Chair in Music and director of choral organizations at Northwestern University. (Photo courtesy of Jill Steinberg)

By Katie Frost, Managing Editor

For Donald Nally, conductor of the Philadelphia-based choir The Crossing, singers and conductors are similar to journalists. They ask important questions and do not profess to know any of the answers.

The Crossing will bring these questions to College Hill when they perform at the Williams Center for the Arts tomorrow, Feb. 5 at 8:00 p.m. The choir has won two Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (with another award pending in the upcoming 2022 Grammys) and has been described by The New York Times as “America’s most astonishing choir.”

Tomorrow’s program will feature pieces based on a variety of topics including immigration, refugeeism, race in America, human innovation and finding one’s own wisdom. These pieces are ultimately focused on asking questions about the world.

“We are dedicated to words that matter and commissioning pieces on words that speak to the time we’re in, whether that be difficult or not,” Nally said.

Relatively unique to this choral performance, each of the pieces are fairly new; all of their composers are living, and the choir commissioned most of the pieces themselves.

Nally explained that performing new music has always been of interest to him. In fact, over 130 works have been commissioned by the choir overall. He said that if even half of these works become a part of the Western canon, they would have really contributed to it.

“And we’ve also left a record of the time,” he said. “We’re sort of saying, we were here, and this is what it felt like to be here.”

Hollis Ashby, artistic and executive director of the Williams Center for the Arts Performance Series, added that the program “clearly has something to say to all peoples, for this moment in time. It is specific to this moment in time.”

Ashby advised audience members to become familiar with the music and lyrics prior to the performance and then sit back and simply listen to the music during the show because the music is very meditative.

Tickets for the show are free for students and are available to the public for $30, to Lafayette staff and faculty for $10 and to other students and youth for $6. Tickets can be purchased on the Williams Center for the Arts ticket website.

Nally will also be giving a pre-concert talk at 7:00 p.m.