WMKY

MSU Concert Choir offers Free Performances across Kentucky

Mar 29, 2017

MSU's concert choir and chamber singers will present three free concerts across the state.
Credit Morehead State University

Morehead State University’s Concert Choir and Chamber Singers will present three free concerts at three churches across the state.

The schedule is as follows:

Monday, April 10, at 7 p.m. at Shively Baptist Church, 1599 Sadie Lane, Louisville

Tuesday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at Parkway Baptist Church, 2580 Springfield Road, Bardstown

Thursday, April 13, at 7:30 pm at First Baptist Church, 123 East Main Street, Morehead

The events are open to the public.

The 45-voice Concert Choir and 18-voice Chamber Singers are conducted by Dr. Greg Detweiler. The program features a large battery of percussion instruments accompanying the choir including a finale with two marimbas-eight hands. The choirs will include the performances as part of their spring concert tour.

The program titled, “Going Home, opens with the South African Zulu song “Vela! Asambeni Siyekhaya!” and the words, “Come! We are going home!”  In this piece one can imagine Nelson Mandela making the journey from his prison island to his home in Cape Town, from the pain of oppression to the hope of a new, free life. The piece launches a musical journey ending in Kentucky with a newly composed piece by Stephen Chatman titled “Kentucky Derby” and the Appalachian folk song, “Cindy,” arranged by Mack Wilberg.

MSU’s School of Music commissioned Stephen Chatman to capture Southern culture in a set of five pieces under the title “Due South,” the last of which is the raucous “Kentucky Derby.”  The choirs are premiering this set of pieces as part of the tour.  Other pieces in the set include: the comical “Bugs,” a blues “What’s Cookin’,” and  the tender “Love, O Love,” which captures the idealized love one finds in “Gone with the Wind.”

“Nocturnes” by Dan Forrest, a three-movement work for choir and percussion,  forms the centerpiece of the journey going home, as it explores the marvels of the night sky and the spiritual journeys of three American poets—Sara Teasdale, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman.  The first movement, “Stars” opens with a hauntingly mysterious introduction before giving way to a fiery explosion of sound as stars appear. The playful second movement at one point paints the key word “punctual” with percussion providing the sounds of a clock’s cogs and gears and the chimes of a Big Ben.  The last movement matches the grandeur of an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s epic poem, “Journey to India,” with a majestic soundscape, ending with a recollection of the work’s mysterious opening.

The other pieces in the program provide connectors to the ideas of night, spiritual, and love journeys.  The contrapuntal “Why, art thou so heavy, O my soul?” by Henry Loosemore mirrors the Zulu journey from heaviness to joy and “Musicians Wrestle Everywhere” by Elliott Carter begins the journey through the heavens.  In the latter piece, Dickinson’s tension between belief and disbelief and a search for verifiable evidence of the existence of immortality (another kind of going home), finds her exploring the music of nature.   In contract to this questioning of belief, “I Thank You God” by Gwyneth Walker and “Zion’s Walls” by Aaron Copland provide pillars of faith and praise.

The second half of the program explores the journey of love with such pieces as Eric Whitacre’s superb “Water Night” and Lionel Daunais’ evocative “Le Pont Mirabeau.”  It is “Dawn” by Eric Barnum which announces the end of the journey is near as it captures light breaking forth out of darkness.  The piece closes with the treble voices singing a cluster of sound on the word “this” over the gentle wave-like sounds of the lower voices, creating the imagery of light reflecting off gentle waves of water as the sun slowly rises above the horizon.

Concert Choir and Chamber Singers represent the university on regional, national and international tours. This past summer, Chamber Singers won two gold medals in the Musica Eterna Roma International Choir Festival in Rome. Other recent trips have included tours to Hungary/Austria, Costa Rica, and Ireland.

During the 2014 Ireland tour, the choirs competed in the Mayo International Choral Festival where Concert Choir won first place in the sacred division and Chamber Singers won the festival’s grand prize.  In 2012, the MSU Chamber Singers also won its division with the gold diploma at the World Choir Games in Cincinnati.

Dr. Detweiler is director of choral studies at MSU.  He conducts the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers and teaches conducting, voice and vocal pedagogy.  He holds the Doctor of Music Arts degree from the University of Illinois and has studied Dalcroze Eurhythmics at the Manhattan School of Music. His choirs have toured Costa Rica, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, and have appeared at state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference.  He was the 2002 Kentucky Music Educators Association Teacher of the Year in College-University Education.

Additional information is available by calling Dr. Detweiler at 606-783-2480.

For more information on MSU's School of Music, Theater and Dance, visit www.moreheadstate.edu/mtd.