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A journey across time and cultures

Sun Min Lee (front, second from left), associate director of Lehigh Choral Arts, directs Dolce, a Lehigh women’s singing group, which will join the University Choir and the Glee Club in concerts tonight and tomorrow night at the Zoellner Arts Center.

Three Lehigh student choirs will sing music that spans cultures and continents, and genres and centuries, in concerts tonight and tomorrow night at the Zoellner Arts Center.

The 60-member University Choir, the 26 voices of the men’s Glee Club and the 18 women singers of Dolce will perform at 8 p.m. both nights in Baker Hall.

The concerts are titled “The Best of All Possible Worlds,” says Sun Min Lee, associate director of Lehigh Choral Arts. The theme of the music is time and the intention is to encourage a deeper appreciation of time.

Lehigh Choral Arts is made up of the University Choir, Dolce and the Glee Club, whose members also sing in the Choir, and the Choral Union, which will join with the first three groups for concerts on April 25 and 26.

Lee, who is also the Robert Cutler Professor of Practice in Choral Arts, directs three of the singing groups. Casey Rule ‘09 directs the Glee Club. Steven Sametz, the director of Lehigh Choral Arts, is on sabbatical this semester.

Several of the pieces that the University Choir will perform this weekend deal directly with the concept of time. Bach’s Cantata 106, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (God’s Time is the Very Best Time), will be accompanied by musicians playing Baroque-era instruments. The American spiritual Ain’t Got Time to Die will conclude the concert.

The Choir will also perform four Liebeslieder Walzer by Johannes Brahms (1833-96), with Choral Arts pianist Susan Frickert and Trevor Davis ‘15 playing the one-piano, four-hands accompaniment.

“A solemn prayer of heavenly comfort”

The Song for Athene by British composer John Tavener (1944-2013) is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet as well as liturgy from the Greek Orthodox funeral mass. The piece was performed at Princess Diana’s funeral service and will be performed this weekend by the Choir.

“The Song for Athene is a solemn prayer of heavenly comfort and eternal rest which ends with an invitation to the time of rewards in heaven,” says Lee.

The Choir will also sing Cry Out and Shout by Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt (b. 1915) and the Kyrie from the Mass in E flat by German composer Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901), which is scored for double choir.

The Glee Club will perform Sicut Cervus by Giovanni Palestrina (c. 1525-94), Schöne Nacht by Wilhelm Nagy (1871-1955) and Kpanlongo, a West African folk song arranged by Derek Bermel (b. 1967), as well as three American spirituals—Wade in the Water, Steal Away and Honor, Honor—arranged by Rule. Jake Puzycki ’14 and Kim Hetrick  ’14 will play percussion on Kpanlongo.

Dolce will perform Shady Grove, arranged by Betty Bertaux, and Hoj, Hura Hoj!, a Moravian folk song by Czech composer Otmar Macha (1922-2006), as well as VoiceDance by Greg Jasperse (b. 1969) and Prayer of the Children by Kurt Bestor (b. 1958). Sara D’Iorio ’17, graduate student Michelle Spicer and Sarah Dudney ’16 will sing solos as shepherds calling each other between the hills on Hoj, Hura Hoj!

The University Choir, says Lee, is open by audition to students of any major. Singers rehearse twice a week and also attend a weekend-long choir camp before each semester.

“The students’ level of musicianship and artistry is very remarkable,” says Lee, who came to Lehigh in 2012 from the Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she served as assistant professor of choral conducting.

“We have really high expectations for the students, and they are very dedicated and hard-working.”

Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Friday, March 21, 2014

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