Southeastern choirs to join Northshore Choral Society for performance Dec. 8

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
by: Tonya Lowentritt

HAMMOND – The Southeastern Louisiana University Chorus, Concert Choir and Women's Chorale will join with the Northshore Choral Society in a performance in Hammond on Dec. 8

Sponsored by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, the free performance is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, located at 401 West Morris.

Southeastern Director of Choral Activities Alissa Mercurio Rowe will direct the choirs.

"The concert opens with the Women's Chorale performing two exquisite selections for women's voices, 'The Snow' with piano and two violins and 'Mary Speaks' by Daniel Gawthrop," Rowe said. "The Concert Choir will follow them and perform an intimate setting of 'Kyrie' by Lithuanian composer Vytautas Miskinis and 'In the Bleak Midwinter' by Michael Trotta and conducted by student conductor Daniel Duensing of Destrehan. They will close with a rousing 'Glory Hallelujah to the Newborn King.'"

The second half of the concert features the University Chorus and Northshore Chorale Society under the new leadership of Brian Martinez.

Rowe said Martinez has programmed an exciting second half with a gospel arrangement of 'Angels, from the Realms of Glory,' and an arrangement of four movements from 'The Nutcracker' titled 'Four Nutcracker Favorites: Nutcracker March, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Russian Dance, and the Waltz of the Flowers.' It is so interesting to hear one of our favorite holiday orchestral pieces sung!"

The concert closes with the combined choirs performing English composer, Gerald Finzi's "In Terra Pax" (and on earth peace) with chamber orchestra.

"The work is a setting of two verses from Robert Bridges' fine poem, 'Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913', subtitled Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis (Peace and goodwill to all men), which Finzi imaginatively and skillfully uses to frame St Luke's account of the angels' appearance to the shepherds. 'In Terra Pax,'" Rowe explained, "is subtitled 'Christmas Scene,' and Finzi explained that 'the Nativity becomes a vision seen by a wanderer on a dark and frosty Christmas Eve in our own familiar landscape.' This placing of the Biblical story into an English pastoral context is entirely consistent with Finzi's close affinity with the English Romantic tradition, and his lifelong dedication to the creation of his own rural paradise at his home in Ashmansworth, near Newbury."

The two soloists and the chorus have clearly defined musical roles; the baritone soloist, Joseph Turner, newly hired adjunct instructor of voice, takes the voice of the poet; the soprano, senior vocal performance Kim Dupre of Hahnville, is cast as the angel; while the chorus narrates the familiar biblical text.

"In the opening section, the poet is standing on a hill contemplating the events of the very first Christmas, the sound of the distant church bells becoming for him the sound of an angel choir," Rowe said. "This image is expressed in a pealing-bells motif which, together with the refrain from 'The First Nowell,' provides the musical fabric of the piece."

For more information on the concert, contact the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at 985-549-2184.


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