Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA's 'Missa Solemnis' features alumni, local talent

April 26, 2011 - Sylvia Bierschenk
NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS -Four alumni vocalists will join the combined choirs and orchestra of Stephen F. Austin State University to present Ludwig van Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6, in W.M. Turner Auditorium.

"We are looking forward to performing this monumental work, one of the finest products of Beethoven's inspiration and artistic creativity," said Dr. Tim King, director of SFA choral activities. "In a letter to the publisher, Beethoven declared that the 'Missa Solemnnis' could be considered 'the greatest work which I have composed thus far.'"

Although Beethoven intended the "Solemn Mass" to be performed during the 1820 installation of his friend and student Archduke Rudolph as the Archbishop of Olmutz, he did not complete the work until 1823, and it was first performed in its entirety in 1824.

For SFA's performance, the choir will consist of the 116 students enrolled in SFA's A Cappella Choir, Choral Union and Women's Choir. Orchestral music will be provided by SFA's 51-member Orchestra of the Pines.

Solos will be sung by four SFA alumni-soprano Charlotte Davis, mezzo-soprano Erin Roth, tenor Richard Novak and bass-baritone Terry Morris.

Davis, who received her Master of Arts in vocal performance from SFA and is a Nacogdoches resident, regularly performs in the East Texas area. She has taught voice at Angelina College since 1991 and serves as choir director, soloist and fill-in pianist at the Memorial Presbyterian Church in San Augustine.

While studying at SFA, Davis won first place in the Texoma Regional audition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Her stage experience includes roles in productions of "Oklahoma!," "The Tales of Hoffmann," "A Little Night Music," "Susannah," "Albert Herring" and "The Impresario."

Roth, a Lufkin native, earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in vocal performance from SFA. Since then, her career as a lyric mezzo-soprano has advanced with performances at Des Moines Metro Opera, Texarkana Symphony Orchestra and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Northwest Louisiana.

She was a grant recipient in the Wednesday Morning Music Club's Fielder Grant competition and a finalist in both the Edward Baird Singer of the Year Competition and the Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year.

Novak, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in vocal performance from SFA and his doctorate from the University of North Texas, is establishing a national reputation as a professional tenor. He has performed with the Washington Concert Opera, Opera Carolina, Annapolis Opera, The Living Opera, San Antonio Symphony, Chautauqua Symphony, Prince William Symphony and the Monroe Symphony.

He was recently admitted into the Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program. Previously, he trained with the apprentice/resident artist programs at Chautauqua Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Wichita Grand Opera and the Wesley Balk Singing/Acting Institute. In 2005 and 2006, Novak won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Tulsa District).

Morris, who is the director of music and fine arts at First Methodist Church in Houston, completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at SFA. He then earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from Michigan State University, where he won the Michigan State Concerto Competition and the Friedrich Schoor International Vocal Competition.

Morris is in constant demand as an arranger, of choral and orchestral works, choral clinician, lecturer, adjudicator, voice teacher and professional singer. He has performed more than 40 roles in opera and musical theater and his solo symphonic performances span another 40 works. Recently, he sang the baritone solo in Kirk Mechem's "Dan-u-el" with the Texas All-State Mixed Choir.

"Missa Solemnis" is a joint presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music and is sponsored in part by BancorpSouth.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students and youths. For tickets or more information, please go to www.finearts.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.