Choral Union, Symphony Orchestra Concert to Showcase Favorite Spirituals May 4

The Department of Music at Southeast Missouri State University will present the final subscription concert of the 2003-2004 concert season,  “Feel the Spirit”, at 8 p.m. May 4 in Academic Auditorium.

This concert will pay tribute to the great heritage of African-American music, with arrangements of African-American spirituals and an African inspired work.  The program consists of William Grant Still’s “Afro-American Symphony,” John Rutter’s “Feel the Spirit,” Mack Wilberg’s “I’m Runnin’ On,” and the world premiere of British composer David Fanshawe’s “Dona Nobis Pacem.”

Sara Edgerton conducts the orchestra, and John Egbert directs the Choral Union and University Choir.  Soloists for the performance will be sopranos Heather Brooks and Lori Shaffer, and there will be a special appearance by the Jackson Middle School Choir, directed by Tyson Zahner.  Choral rehearsal accompanists are Christy Shinn for the Choral Union and Tim DePriest for the University Choir.

The concert will open with the orchestral work, “Afro-American Symphony,” by William Grant Still, the celebrated African-American composer, and the first African-American composer to gain widespread recognition. He was the first African-American to conduct any major symphony orchestra in this country and the first African-American to conduct in the South.  Inspired by ragtime and jazz, this composition is a very appealing and energetic work.

John Rutter’s new cycle of spirituals, “Feel the Spirit,” is the foundation of the program and contains such well-known spirituals as “Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho,” “Steal Away,” “Deep River” and “Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit.”  British composer David Fanshawe, who spent four years living and studying music and tribal rituals in eastern Africa, wrote “Dona Nobis Pacem:  A Hymn for World Peace” as a ‘gesture of thanks’ to the world.  It is scored for orchestra, choir, soprano soloist, and children’s choir. As a concert finale, Mack Wilberg, one of America’s most popular and prominent choral arrangers, has again provided the Southeast Choral Union with one of his marvelous, unpublished choral works, “I’m Runnin’ On.”  It is a stirring spiritual, arranged for two choirs and full symphony orchestra, and will feature Heather Brooks as soloist.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling the Performing Arts Box Office. Preferred seating (balcony and front /center floor) is available for $12. All other tickets are $7 for the general public, $6 for Southeast faculty, staff, and senior citizens, and $5 for students. All non-preferred tickets will be $7 at the door, but advanced tickets (with applicable discounts) are available by calling (573) 651-2265 or by stopping by the Performing Arts Box Office, located in the lobby of the Rose Theatre.