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April 2002

Release Date: April 08, 2002

ASU Choir with Orchestra to Present Fifth Annual 'Major Works Concert'

The Angelo State University Choir accompanied by orchestra will perform two popular musical masterworks of the 20th century during its fifth annual "Major Works Concert" Thursday, April 18.

ASU Choir members and local musicians will perform Gabriel Fauré's "Requiem, Op. 48" and Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms." The performance will begin 8 p.m. April 18 in the sanctuary of Southland Baptist Church. The "Major Works Concert" is open free to the public.

This year's featured soloists for "Requiem" will be senior music education majors Angela Lindley, soprano, and Russell Watkins, baritone. Drama major Brian Jones will sing the distinctive counter-tenor solo from the "Chichester Psalms." Dr. Pamela Lee, ASU's director of choral activities, will conduct the hour-long performance.

French composer Gabriel Fauré, who lived from 1845 to 1924, began work on his "Requiem" in 1887. The piece evolved through several revisions until the version most commonly performed today -- in seven movements for orchestra, organ, chorus, and soprano and baritone soloists -- was completed in 1900. Instead of creating a complete liturgical requiem, the composer selected texts that focused on the peacefulness of death, while omitting the Day of Judgment altogether. There is a warm, consoling quality to Fauré's beautiful "Messe de Requiem." The soaring vocal lines are gently soothing, as is the poignant violin solo in the "Sanctus." The concluding "In Paradisum" echoes the serenity that appears throughout earlier movements.

An exhilarating contrast will follow with Bernstein's engaging "Chichester Psalms." Commissioned in 1965 by the Very Reverend Walter Hussey, dean of the Cathedral of Chichester in Sussex, England, "Chichester Psalms" is a 20-minute tour de force that was composed for that cathedral's annual summer choral music festival. Asked to write a devotional work based on the Old Testament Psalms, Bernstein, who was Jewish, chose six of his favorite texts -- Psalms 2, 23, 100, 108, 131 and 133 -- and then set them in the original Hebrew language.

Bernstein's composition features unusual and energetic meters, such as 7/4 and 10/4, treated in a wonderfully flowing manner. A stunning counter-tenor solo opens the second movement, providing a perfect musical backdrop for the lyrical 23rd Psalm. The orchestra score calls for strings and brass, along with an enlarged percussion section, harp and organ.

Many of San Angelo's talented instrumental musicians will be playing in the orchestra for this special performance. Among the local performers will be violinists Gretchen Goldman, Nada Huey, Kay Knebel, Brandie Phillips, David Raif, Debra Scott and Jake Wyatt; violist Dorothy Douthitt; cellists Brian and Christine Towndrow; and Kelly Henson on double bass.

Members of the brass section will include David Evans, Jason Howard and Dr. John Irish on trumpet; Reuben Chance and Dr. David Scott on trombone; and Joey Pereira on french horn. Timpanist Dr. Douglas Overmier and percussionists Amy Allison, Charla Bretzke, Jimmie McEachern and Matt Vaught will complete the rhythm section. Sharon Towndrow will play harp and Louellen Meyer will accompany at the organ.

The ASU Department of Art and Music invites the public to attend this special musical event. With the programming of two such diverse and attractive compositions, and the participation of so many talented performers, the evening promises to delight the audience as have past performances featuring Handel's "Messiah," Mendelssohn's "Elijah," "Lux Aeterna" by contemporary Los Angeles composer Morten Lauridsen and last year, "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff.

For more information about this concert, please contact the ASU Department of Art and Music at 942-2085, ext. 221.