MSU University Chorale with The Lansing Symphony
There were 2 classical concerts I attended (or sang in) sandwiched around the best-attended Coffeehouse at All Saints we've ever had. The first performance was MSU's premiere choral group, Chorale, partnering with the Lansing Symphony at St Mary's Cathedral in Lansing with a performance of the "Lord Nelson Mass" by Franz Joseph Haydn, a gradual by Johann Michael Haydn, an offertory by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Gregorian chant settings of the Introit and Communion. With solos shared among a variety of the graduate students it was a sublime evening of sacred choral singing. David Rayl, Director of Choral Activities at MSU, conducted the ensemble to a very high level. Honestly, you could close your eyes and be transported...it was beautiful.
It was an exciting, full evening at the April edition of The Coffeehouse at All Saints. We started with 12 students from the Residential College of Arts and Humanities at MSU and their instructor, Dr. Chris Scales. They played a variety of folk and gospel tunes with grace and humility...guitars, banjos and fiddles. It was wonderful! Their vocals were fine, with sprinkles of harmony. It was wonderful the hear them and we are grateful they made the trip out to The Coffeehouse and hope to see them (or any of the individuals) in the future. Thank you Dr. Scales.
A somewhat unexpected delight was the return of Magdalen Fossum from Ann Arbor. She has been a busy young lady since we saw her last. She now has a website and at least 11 gigs coming up, one of which is May 11 at The Ark in Ann Arbor...a real honor since she was one of only two chosen for The Ark's Open Stage Showcase. Magdalen thrilled us again with a few new tunes, including a fun rendition of Del Shannon's, "Runaway". Magdalen will be back May 20, don't miss her!
It's always great to have Matt Bliton back and he joined Bob Kilbridge and me for a pretty good reading of The Band's, "The Weight" and Old Crow Medicine Show's, "Wagon Wheel"...everybody was singing then. Matt took the stage and did a new tune of his which we all liked and then, again a wonderful surprise, was joined by local favorite, Linda Abar for a couple songs. Their harmony was rich and beautiful. A real treat for all.
Finally, The Basement Boys performed a few numbers with the addition of a banjoist. For only their second time out, these fellas have a following!
Looking forward to May 20 when we'll have a great finish to a wonderful season (next Coffeehouse after May 20 will be Sept 16). Lisa Findley from Chicago and Emily Findley from New York City will be joining us with sets of their own and together. Look for the email (not on the list? send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Verdi's RequiemApril 30 brought the choral music season to a close for me. I am a member of MSU's Choral Union, a "town and gown" choir consisting of Mid-Michigan singers and MSU students. We sang Verdi's "Requiem" at the Wharton Center for The Performing Arts. The MSU Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale, State Singers, Choral Union and soloists from the MSU voice faculty – Melanie Helton, soprano; Molly Fillmore, mezzo-soprano; Richard Fracker, tenor; and Rod Nelman, bass – performed. There were over 300 performers on stage including herald trumpets (the ones with loooong necks) and a bass drum that knocked your socks off. it was thrilling to be a part of it.
From MSU's website:
"It is perhaps the most dramatic piece of sacred music ever written," said David Rayl, director of choral programs at the college. "Some have called it a sacred opera but I view it as Verdi's astounding setting of an incredibly spiritual and dramatic text – the Requiem Mass – using all the forces he had at his disposal. For me, it is, in fact, a very spiritual piece: a requiem."
Completed in 1874 to mark the first anniversary of the death of Alessandro Manzoni, a famous Italian poet and novelist, “Requiem” is composed of seven major sections in the setting of a Catholic funeral mass. The 90-minute concert encompasses the emotions Verdi felt after the loss Manzoni.
"The Verdi Requiem is an emotionally charged production of incredibly beautiful music," said chorister Lorie Barbieri. "The music ranges from joyful and angelic to sorrowful, while at the same time encompassing a human desire for forgiveness and mercy. As a new member of the MSU Choral Union, I am honored to be a part of this fabulous production."