In an awe-inspiring performance, the SJSU Choraliers, under the expert guidance of conductor Dr. Jeffrey Benson, took center stage to present a breathtaking rendition of Troy Robertson’s captivating composition titled “In Meeting We Are Blessed.” Drawing inspiration from the timeless words of John Donne, this musical masterpiece embodies the profound essence of peace and its transformative influence on humanity. 

A Cappella Text

For over three minutes, this a cappella piece demonstrates R. Gatsnahos’ mastery in writing choral text. Although the words are few and simple, they are an example of the profound message of friendship and unity. The text, as inspired by John Donne, is heard in the beautifully phrased ABA form. “In Meeting We Are Blessed” is part of André J. Thomas’ choral series and published under Hinshaw Music. With the intention of being performed with the Djembe, the choral score provides the drum part alongside the SATB voicing. 

At the down beat, the voices of the tenor and bass sections are heard in unison, ushering in the call and response theme. This theme is used throughout the piece. Syncopated harmony is heard once the women begin to sing. However, it is not until the latter part of the A section that one hears a brief yet chilling moment where all the voices begin and end a phrase, in unity. It is at this point that the composer cleverly inserts a fermata, peaking the interest of the listener for what is yet to come. 

The ebb and flow of the mezzo-forte, mezzo-piano and piano phrases culminate in the B section, where, for the first time, one hears the forte phrase, “You are not alone…I will be with you and carry you with me.” Following this, the composer introduces the mezzo-piano phrase, “Friendship endures…,” before returning to the final A section. As though a light switch is turned dim, the softly fading sound of the SATB voices bring the piece to its culmination. 

In Meeting We Are Blessed Was Commissioned For Two Choirs

Originally composed for the momentous meeting between the Nairobi Chamber Chorus and the Festival Singers of Florida, this enchanting piece made its debut in Nairobi, with Troy Robertson lending his voice to the choir. 

The significance of this occasion resonated deeply as the choir delivered a heartfelt performance that transcended boundaries and united voices in a harmonious celebration of peace

In October 2015, the Nairobi Chamber Chorus toured South East USA, where they visited Florida, among other states, with their conductor, Ken Wakia. Their U.S. hosts, Kevin Fenton and The Festival Singers of Florida, performed “In Meeting We Are Blessed” with the NCC during the tour. 

The Nairobi Chamber Chorus

The Nairobi Chamber Chorus (NCC) strives to empower young Kenyans by providing them with a platform of exceptional musical opportunities, fostering the growth of their careers and expanding their passion and understanding of the arts. Throughout its existence, NCC has welcomed over 70 young individuals who have embraced this musical forum. Today, these talented individuals have emerged as prominent musicians in Kenya, showcasing their skills and knowledge through performances and music education both within the country and internationally.

The San Jose State University Choraliers

The SJSU Choraliers, an esteemed chamber ensemble at San Jose State University, represents the pinnacle of musical excellence. Comprising both undergraduate and graduate students, this group of talented vocalists has reached remarkable heights. During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Choraliers joyously commemorated their 75th anniversary, a testament to their enduring legacy. 

The Djembe Drum

Accompanied by the rhythmic beats of a Djembe, an African drum known for its vibrant and energetic sound, the SJSU Choraliers breathed life into the composition, infusing it with a contagious energy that swept through the audience. The resonant voices of the choir intertwined with the pulsating rhythms, creating a symbiotic synergy that underscored the profound message of unity and harmony embedded within the music.

As the Choraliers brought their voices together, their collective sound reverberated throughout the performance hall, carrying the audience on a mesmerizing journey of reflection and contemplation. The lilting melody, delicately woven by Troy Robertson, weaved its way into the hearts of the listeners, evoking a sense of hope, serenity, and optimism. The composition’s timeless beauty and universal appeal ensured that its enchanting allure would captivate choirs of all ages and backgrounds. 

Dr. Jeffrey Benson’s Conducting Mastery

Dr. Jeffrey Benson’s masterful conducting skills shone through as he guided the Choraliers with precision and passion, enabling each member to channel their emotions and convey the profound meaning of the piece. Under his guidance, the choir’s voices rose and fell in perfect unison, painting an auditory tapestry that enveloped the audience in a profound sense of peace and tranquility.

The Power of Community

“In Meeting We Are Blessed” serves as a poignant reminder of the immense power and blessings that peace brings to individuals and communities alike. It exemplifies the enduring spirit of collaboration, as different choirs from diverse corners of the world are inspired to come together, sharing in the joy of music and the pursuit of harmony.

The Performance Video

The performance video of the SJSU Choraliers‘ rendition stands as a testament to the beauty and transformative power of music. It captures the essence of the composition and showcases the talents of the choir members, who, through their unwavering dedication and soulful expressions, breathe life into every note. The visual representation of their performance further enhances the experience, allowing viewers to witness the passion and commitment that emanate from the stage.

With its profound message, enchanting melody, and captivating performance, “In Meeting We Are Blessed” by Troy Robertson, conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Benson, is a testament to the unifying power of music and serves as a timeless reminder of the blessings that peace bestows upon humanity.