NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Men’s Choir and Women’s Choir at Stephen F. Austin State University will present the program “Elemental: Songs about Earth, Wind and Fire” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
The program theme lends itself to a wealth of outstanding texts and music based on the subjects of Earth, wind and fire, according to Dr. Tod Fish, associate director of choral activities in the School of Music and the choirs’ director. SFA collaborative pianists Hyun Ji Oh and Dr. Thomas Nixon will accompany.
“This theme has allowed for tremendous diversity in our programming,” Fish said. “The choirs will perform music ranging from earlier masters such as Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert and Clara Schumann to current star composers Jake Runestad and Eleanor Daley.”
Dr. Jennifer Dalmas, professor of violin and viola, and Dr. Brad Meyer, director of percussion studies, will perform on Runestad’s “Sing Wearing the Sky.”
Among the other program highlights is the Women’s Choir performing “Suite” de Lorca by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, longtime professor of composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland.
“Rautavaara was known as an eclectic composer who fused archaic and modern styles skillfully,” Fish explained. “He displays this ability in his 1973 composition, ‘Suite’ de Lorca, which is a staple in both the mixed and treble choir repertory. Rautavaara takes four dark texts by the Spanish poet Lorca, and merges modern techniques such as semi-tone clusters, mediant triad harmonies and aleatoric effects with ancient techniques such as modality and fauxbourdon. ‘Suite’ de Lorca is neo-classical in nature and fully displays Rautavaara's gift for pluralism.”
The Women’s Choir will also perform Schumann’s “Er ist gekommen,” arranged by Brandon Williams. Originally composed as a solo lied, Williams arranged the piece for a women’s chorus. The lied was written in June of 1841, while Schumann was pregnant with her and husband Robert's first child, Marie. “Er ist gekommen” is part of a three-song set (op. 12) from texts by 19th-century poet Friedrich Rückert.
“The piece is driven by a virtuosic accompaniment that will put our outstanding collaborative pianist, Hyun Ji Oh, on full display,” Fish said.
The Men’s Choir will perform “Tu qui consortem” by Brian Bondari, associate professor of music theory and composition at Trinity University and Fish’s friend.
“Brian and I collaborated on this composition during our time together at the University of Kansas,” Fish said. “It is a poignant piece based on a war poem by Sextus Propertius. The story is from the standpoint of Gallus, a mortally wounded soldier. Gallus implores the other soldiers to tell his sister that he fought valiantly but perished at the hand of an unknown enemy. He begs his comrades to ‘save themselves,’ so that their families may ‘rejoice’ in their return home from the atrocities of war.”
Two new graduate students in the School of Music, David Zielke of Albany, Oregon, and Greg Simmons of Lufkin, will conduct two selections with the Men’s Choir. Zielke will also conduct the Women’s Choir on Paul Read’s “Birdsong.”
The program will also feature a portion of the music chosen for the Women’s Choir’s performance at the 2020 Southwest American Choral Directors Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, this coming March.
Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.