NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State University Chamber Choir will celebrate the 100th birthday of composer Benjamin Britten in its fall concert on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free. The public is invited to attend. Dr. Burt Allen will conduct the Choir.
The choir will perform Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” featuring soloists soprano Geneva McAuliffe, alto Rebekah Hall, tenor Scott Laborde, bass John Calvin Johnson and Jordan DeRouen on organ. The work features text by Christopher Smart.
“This is a large, significant work,” said Allen. “It was difficult for the choir to get into at first, but the sign of a great work of art is that the more you study it, the more you appreciate it. They are really enjoying it.”
Allen said that Smart believed that God was part of everything people see, hear and experience.
“Smart thought all things were made by God and praised God,” said Allen. “That could include people, animals and inanimate objects such as musical instruments or letters of the alphabet.”
Britten was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces.
Northwestern State is among a number of universities around the world performing works by Britten marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.
The choir will perform “Three Motets” by Charles Villiers Stanford, “Rise up my Love” by Scott Wilkinson, “Behold! I build and House” by Lukas Foss and Ronald Staheli’s arrangement of “How Can I Keep from Singing” featuring soprano Kallie Stephenson.
Also on the program are “By the Waters of Babylon” by Edwin Fissinger and featuring soprano Emma Harrison, “Feller from Fortune” arranged by Harry Sommers, “Sometimes I Feel” arranged by Robert Shaw and Alice Parker and featuring soloist Symone Giles and “John Saw duh numbuh” arranged by Shaw and Parker.
The Chamber Choir, founded in 1987 by Allen, is a highly auditioned choral ensemble that specializes in performing music suitable for smaller choirs. Membership is made up of students at Northwestern State, many of whom are music or music education majors, but several have majors in other fields including business, social work, social sciences, and theatre. The Chamber Choir has established an outstanding reputation for choral performance in the gulf coast region. They have been invited to sing for several professional conferences sponsored by the Louisiana Music Educators and the Louisiana Choral Directors Association. Most of the Chamber Choir was in the NSU International Chorale that toured England in the spring of 2010.
In 1997, they appeared in solo performance in Carnegie Hall in New York City. The Chamber Choir has also joined forces with the University Concert Choir to form the NSU Symphony Chorus and perform major works for chorus and orchestra including the Brahms “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony,” Poulenc’s “Gloria,” the Bach “Magnificat,” the Mozart “Requiem,” Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms,” Franz Josef Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War,” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms.”