(Posted March 29, 2016)

Russell Shelley, professor of music, conducts the Concert Choir, which performs at 3 p.m., Sunday April 3 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.
Russell Shelley, professor of music, conducts the Concert Choir, which performs at 3 p.m., Sunday April 3 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College Concert Choir will perform a varied and ambitious musical program taken from international, classical and avant-garde selections in its spring concert at 3 p.m., Sunday April 3 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus.

The concert is free and open to the public. The Concert Choir is conducted by Russell Shelley, Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music at Juniata College.

The concert is the final local concert for the group which started a nine-city tour March 5 in preparation for the final home concert of the year. The repertoire for the concert will remain the same throughout the choir's domestic tour during spring break and international tour to Hungary and Czech Republic starting in May.

The opening song is "Exsultate Deo," by Alessandro Scarlatti, an 18th century composer who compiled a collection of sacred songs for Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome. Next is "Heilig," by Felix Mendelssohn, which was composed as part of the German Liturgy.

The choir transitions to "Lobe Den Herren," by Hugo Distler (1908-1942), a 20th century German composer, and then performs "67th Psalm," by Charles Ives. Ives is one of America's renowned modernist composers.

American composer Stephen Chatman's "Remember Me" sets a poem by Christina Rossetti to a vocal arrangement. Next, "Super Flumina Babylonis," by Giovanni P. da Palestrina, is a Renaissance-era work known for its beautiful polyphonic arrangement.

"By the Waters of Babylon," by Edwin Fissinger, chairman of the music department at North Dakota State University, is based on a Bible verse documenting the exile of the Israelites. "Amen," by Dan Forrest, ends the first half of the concert. The song is the final movement from a larger piece, "Words from Paradise."

After intermission, the song selections will include "Szeles a Duna," by Lajos Bardos. The song is based on a Hungarian folk song, and the title means "Wide is the Danube." "Esti Dal," by Zoltán Kodály, is also based on a Hungarian folksong. The choir will sing two selections by Antonin Dvorak, a Czech composer who adapted Slavic and folk melodies to classical works: "Vyb?hla b?iza b?ličká (Up Sprang a Birch Tree)" and "Večerní les rozvázal zvonky (When Evening Comes, Chimes Fill the Forest)."

The next song, "Unicornis Captiuatur," by Ola Gjeilo, is comprised of medieval chants from around 1400.

The choir will switch to spirituals for the final section of the concert, starting with the classic "The Water is Wide," which is based on English and Scottish folk songs. "Hush! Somebody's Callin' My Name," has its beginnings as an Underground Railroad "code song" that contained directions or instructions for escaped slaves.

The spiritual "We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace," by Moses Hogan, is a contemporary song. "Hold On," written by Eugene Thamon Simpson, is a popular gospel song. As the concert closes, the choir will sing its traditional closer, "Set Me As a Seal," taken from Rachmaninoff's "Vespers No. 6."
The Juniata Concert Choir is one of three choirs performing at the college. The 46-person choir tours every spring semester, focusing its program on historical sacred music. Juniata choirs have performed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Recent international tours have taken the choir to Costa Rica, Germany, China, and Guatemala.

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.