Approximately 100 voices will combine to initiate the first Intercollegiate Choral Celebration as Mercyhurst College and Millersville University join with the Mercyhurst Chamber Orchestra in a unique performance on Sunday, Feb. 13. The concert takes places at 2:30 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center on the Mercyhurst campus.
Rebecca Ryan, director of choirs at Mercyhurst, and Dr. Buddy James, director of choral activities at Millersville, will present a deeply spiritual program that contrasts the Baroque work, “Mass in B Minor,” by Johann Sebastian Bach with the moving contemporary work, “Lux Aeterna,” by internationally renowned West Coast composer Morten Lauridsen.
The first part of the program, sung in Latin, is one hour long. James will conduct two movements of the sacred “Mass in B Minor” – the “Kyrie” and “Gloria” – blending the voices of the Mercyhurst Concert Choir and the Millersville University Choir with the Mercyhurst Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra will be prepared for its performance by director Robert Frankenberry. All solos and duets will be performed by students in the D’Angelo Department of Music.
The “Mass in B Minor” is considered a retrospective of a lifetime’s work by Bach, and has been called the “ultimate expression of his faith.”
The smaller ensembles from each school, Mercyhurst’s Carpe Diem Chorale and the Millersville University Chorale, will join with the orchestra when Ryan conducts the rapturous “Lux Aeterna.” Each of the five connected movements contains references to “light” assembled from various sacred Latin texts. This short work is only 25 minutes in its entirety.
“The collaboration between schools gives students the chance to grow musically as they learn to work with a different conductor,” Ryan said. “And, it will be an extraordinary experience for both the students and the audience to hear 100 voices and the orchestra coming together to sing Bach’s inspiring work. In Lauridsen’s work, the audience will be drawn to ‘feel the light’ he so aptly paints through voices.”
In addition, Ryan said, “Through my travel with the choral groups, I realize that many schools do not have facilities similar to our performing arts center. Collaborations of this type give us the opportunity to share this beautiful space.”
Ryan said it is her hope that the Intercollegiate Choral Celebration marks the first of annual collaborations that Mercyhurst undertakes with other colleges and universities. The match between Mercyhurst and Millersville, which is located in Lancaster County, Pa., stems from Ryan’s and James’ affiliation with the Pennsylvania Collegiate Choral Association, where they met and formulated the plan for the joint venture.
Tickets for the concert are $5 for adults; $3 for President’s Associates, seniors and students; and $1 for Mercyhurst students with identification.