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NOON INTERVIEW: The Master Singers

(WEAU)
Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 10:51 AM CDT
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The Master Singers, Gary R. Schwartzhoff, conductor, will present Choral Images 2020: LUX: The Dawn from on High on Sunday, March 15 at 2 PM at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eau Claire.

News Release:

The concert features guest artists Christopher Stroh, organist at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis and members of the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), Frank A. Watkins, conductor. This performance marks the conclusion of their Twenty-Seventh concert season with seven performances in Eau Claire and Minneapolis. In addition, The Master Singers will appear as guest artist with ECCO on their March 21, 2020 performance at 7:30 PM at the Pablo Center at the Confluence in Eau Claire.

LUX: The Dawn from On High is Dan Forrest’s third major work for chorus and orchestra, premiered in 2018. This five-movement work explores various facets of lux (Latin for “light”), in texts ranging from ancient liturgical chant to scripture to modern secular love poetry. The music of LUX was inspired thematically and spiritually by these profound texts, visually by the light in the Reims Cathedral in France and at the Poulnabrone Dolmen in Ireland, and musically by a variety of musical sources from ancient chant to modern minimalist composers.

The title invokes the dual meaning of the text of the first movement, where the light of dawn gradually ascends into the sky, yet the light of the world descends from the sky—a “Dawn from On High.” As a whole, the five movements trace a symmetrical journey through time—from ancient prophecy, to today, and then back again; or from another perspective, from a day’s dawn, through the sun’s high point in the sky, and then to the setting of the sun on the horizon at the end of day.

The first movement offers the promise of future light, and the hope of dawn is repeatedly heard in the text and evoked by the music. The second movement uses contrasting musical meters and keys to portray its text about light courageously shining in darkness. This movement ends reflecting the nature of light that must continue to shine through darkness. The third movement flashes ahead to today, seeing the sun as a metaphor for unconditional love that “lights the whole sky.” The fourth movement continues the “light in the sky” motif with a joyful setting of “Gloria in excelsis” text from the scriptural nativity story. The fifth movement closes out the “day” with an ancient evening hymn, presented as a solo, then unison, then in increasingly complex canons, before a closing section provides closure between the multiple facets of light.

The second half of Choral Images will feature six choral works by noted American choral composers Kim André Arnesen, Stephen Paulus, René Clausen, Undine Smith-Moore, Joseph Flummerfelt, as well as, Elaine Hagenberg from Des Moines who will compose a major work for The Master Singers in 2021. The concert will conclude with a performance of Danny Boy arranged by Joseph Flummerfelt in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17. Flummerfelt (1937-2019) served as the long-term Director of Choral Activities at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

Tickets for Choral Images 2020 are available at the three Festival Foods locations in Eau Claire, First Congregational United Church of Christ and at the door. Admission is $20.00 for adults, $8.00 for students or by season pass.

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