(Posted November 10, 2014)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Large choirs don't get many opportunities to climb the music charts, but Juniata College's Choral Union will perform what has to be described as the greatest hits of choir music at its fall concert at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 18, 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 artistic director and conductor of the Choral Union is Russell Shelley, Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music.

The repertoire for the upcoming concert will cover some of the most familiar choral compositions in a variety of genres, including sacred music, Celtic tunes, Broadway and movie music, folk songs and classical selections.

For example "Sussex Carol," which will be featured during the performance, is perhaps the most popular Christmas carol in Britain, based on a tune transcribed by famed English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams. "Gloria A Dios," is a hymn to the glory of God, as is "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," a hugely popular choral work that is often misidentified as a work of Mozart but was actually written by Wenzel Muller, a little known composer of light opera.

More earthly selections are represented by the song "Adam Lay Ybounden," an interpretation of an English minstrel's song, which dates to the 1400s. Another English composer, Gustav Holst, is represented by the song "Short Festival Te Deum," which is an "Ave Maria" composition written in memory of the composer's mother.

Ralph Vaughn Williams also wrote one of the ensemble's selections, "Let Beauty Awake." Williams wrote the song as part of "Songs of Travel," a nine-song cycle based on a wandering minstrel or stranger.

American folk music is well represented with the inclusion of "Wayfaring Stranger," a song made famous by Burl Ives that traces back to the early 1800s. Another folk tune, "Simple Gifts," combines the Shaker song most recognizable from its use in Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring," and "Pachelbel's Canon," a baroque composition. The two are combined in an arrangement by Donald Moore.

"De Amor Heridos," by Ramon Noble, is a Mexican folk song that laments the wounds of love." Another song, "Music Alone Shall Live," is based on a German canon and arranged by Carlos Lopez.

Inspiration for the Celtic-infused "My Heart's in the Highlands" comes from the renowned poem by Scottish poet Robert Burns. "Zum Gali Gali" is based on an Israeli folk tune. Another international selection, "El Cielo Canta Alegria," which translates as "Heaven is Singing for Joy," was written by Pablo Sosa.

Although the title of "Winter," by Z. Randall Stroope, is appropriate for a November concert, the focus of the song is about losing a loved one. The song is adapted from "The Life of Love," a poem by Kahlil Gibran.

The American vaudeville song, "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," will be sung by the ensemble, honoring a standard that has been included in many Broadway plays and films, including "Ziegfeld Girl," with Judy Garland. Another song sung by the choral group also was made famous by Garland, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," -- from the classic movie musical "The Wizard of Oz." The Stone Church Ringers will accompany the choir on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

The great Johann Sebastian Bach composition, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," is one of the most recognizable classical instrumental and vocal selections in the choral repertoire. The song is a popular wedding selection and has been performed by opera stars, such as Renee Fleming, to classical artists, such as Wendy Carlos, to rock groups, such as Procul Harem, the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Beach Boys. The Choral Union will perform the song accompanied by the Stone Church Ringers.

The Choral Union is the largest choral ensemble at Juniata with a student membership of more than 90 and more than 50 members from communities in the Huntingdon area. The Juniata Choral Union traditionally performs larger choral works.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.