NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Dr. Richard Novak, associate professor of voice at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, will present “Stations of Mychal,” a song cycle commemorating the life, ministry and death of New York Fire Department Chaplain Father Mychal Judge, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, in Cole Concert Hall on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.
With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance from SFA and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of North Texas, Novak has performed across the U.S., Italy, Germany, Poland and Mexico. Novak was the driving force behind the creation of Kevin Salfen’s song cycle “Stations of Mychal” in 2021 and performed in New York City for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. Performing with Novak on the SFA concert will be Joey Martin, piano, and Ames Asbell, viola. “Stations of Mychal” lyrics are by Rick Davis.
Commissioned by Texas State University, “Stations of Mychal” is a song cycle for tenor, viola and piano honoring the “Saint of 9/11,” Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest serving as fire chaplain for the Fire Department of New York City on Sept.11, 2001. On Sept. 11, he was the first certified fatality of the attacks on the Twin Towers. Before his death, Father Mychal worked in New York City ministering to the homeless, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community, being recognized with statues, in songs, awards and film for his efforts. The commissioned project commemorates Father Mychal’s courage with 14 songs composed by Salfen.
Upon learning that the World Trade Center had been hit by the first of two jetliners, Judge rushed to the site of the emergency command post inside the North Tower and prayed for the city and its victims. Upon his death that day, his body was carried out of the North Tower by firefighters, an EMT, an officer and a civilian, an act that was photographed by a Reuters photographer and became one of the most famous photographs taken during the attacks. Judge was the first certified fatality because his body was the first to be recovered and taken to the medical examiner.
Prior to UMHB, Novak taught at Texas State University, the University of the Incarnate Word, George Mason University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Louisiana-Monroe and Angelina College. He is also on the faculty of the Sulzbach-Rosenberg International Music Festival in Germany.
Cole Concert Hall is located in the Wright Music Building, 2210 Alumni Drive. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. To purchase tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit the fine arts box office website. For additional information, contact the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602.