St. Olaf Choir

Choral singing at its best, from the heartland

The philosopher Plato wrote about this thing called ideal form. All things, he believed, existed in some sort of perfect way in a perfect utopia that we couldn’t experience because we’re always screwing everything up in our version of reality. But if we could experience it, it would be awesome. The Forms—capital “F”—as he called them, bring to mind college choirs. There are these beautiful works of choral music just waiting to be sung by a collection of 75 young, virile voices. But in practice, these groups are usually burdened by sopranos still hung up on a future of pop stardom and tenors still mired in puberty. If most of the singers in the 18-to-22 age range embody only mediocre realizations of all a college choir ought to be, the St. Olaf Choir is the Platonic Form. You probably haven’t heard of the school, a small Lutheran campus tucked away in rural Minnesota, but if you leave PBS on during Christmas for the music, you’ve heard them. Unlike, say, Juilliard, St. Olaf offers all the areas of study of a typical undergraduate institution, but music is what makes them famous. Their fight song is in 3/4 time, just to show you they can. [The University of North Dakota’s fight song is in a minor key. —Ed.] Led by Anton Armstrong, the choir is on tour performing a collection of sacred works from classic Mendelssohn and Bach to the current Estonian minimalist darling Arvo Pärt. They’ve even thrown in a couple of world-music college choir standards like the African O Sifuni Mungu. And it will be so much better than it was when you did it in school. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 292-2787, $30-$40. 8 p.m. LAURA ONSTOT

Wed., Jan. 30, 8 p.m., 2008

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