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Fresh Off Tour, Juniata Concert Choir to Sing Spring Concert

(Posted March 24, 2014)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata Concert Choir will perform an eclectic program of music celebrating spring with a mix of Native American, international and traditional spiritual music at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 30, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts in the Juniata campus.

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

The concert opens with "Now I Walk in Beauty," a Native American round, which is a type of dance song.

Next the choir will sing "Sicut Cervus," an expressive composition featuring Renaissance composer Giovanni Palestrina's trademark counterpoint arrangements. Next, the choir performs "Napadly písn?," by Antonin Dvo?ák, a composer best known for his orchestral works such as "New World Symphony."

The ensemble will the sing "Hosanna," written by Dan Forrest, a contemporary American choral composer, followed by "Gloria," by James Quitman Mulholland, a professor of music at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind.

The program then shifts to "Creation," by William Billings, an American composer (1746-1800) considered "the father of American choral music." Next the choir will perform "Elohim Hashivenu," by Salomoni Rossi, a baroque Italian-Jewish composer (1570-1630), who published a renowned book of Jewish liturgical music.

"Justorum animae," written by Gabriel Jackson to commemorate All Soul's Day," is the next selection. "Heavenly Crystal," is an a capella arrangement by Scandinavian composer Peder Karlsson. The choir follows that selection with "With a Lily in Your Hand," by Eric Whitacre, an American Grammy-winning composer who based the composition on a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca.

The choir will take inspiration from Asian music, by performing "Happy Song of Gelao" and "Too Difficult to Leave You," both Chinese folk songs. In addition, this section of the program features "Datje, datje," which is inspired by a Slovenian folk song.

Next in the program is "And Am I Born to Die," by Casey Rule, a contemporary American composer whose brother, Tim Rule, is a Juniata senior and Concert Choir member. The choir will bring the program to a close with performances of well-known African-American spirituals. "I Hear a Voice A'Prayin," written by Houston Bright, a Texas composer who died in 1970, will set the spiritual mood, followed by "I Got a Home In-A That Rock," a song made famous by the folk group The Weavers.

The concert will close with "Wade in the Water," by Jester Hairston, a spiritual that has been covered by countless artists, including jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, followed by "In Bright Mansions Above." The finale, "Set Me As a Seal," is the traditional closing selection for the Juniata ensemble and is based on "The Song of Solomon."

The Juniata Concert Choir is one of three choirs performing at the college. The 50-person choir tours every spring semester, focusing its program on historical and 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 tours have taken the choir to Guatemala in 2013, Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2012, and Hungary and Romania in 2011.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.