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Spring Choral Performances Feature Stellar Works

MacMillan’s “St. John Passion,” Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus,” Stravinsky’s Mass

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April 8, 2014 | by Judy Moore

Northwestern’s University Chorale program, May 17, will explore the sounds of the earth at night. 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Midwest premiere of Scottish composer James MacMillan’s St. John Passion, Stravinsky’s Mass, and the Chicago-area premiere of a work by Steven Stucky commemorating the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death, will soon be performed at Northwestern University.

Presented by the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, the choral events will take place at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive or Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Road, on the University’s Evanston campus, or off-campus at the First United Methodist Church, 516 Church Street, Evanston, as noted.

Concert ticket prices are indicated in two ranges: the first for the general public and the second for full-time students with IDs. Northwestern faculty and staff with a valid WildCARD receive a 15 percent discount off the general public ticket price.

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall office at (847) 491-5441 or visit Pick-Staiger. To order tickets, call (847) 467-4000 or visit Pick-Staiger.

SPRING 2014 CHORAL EVENTS

The Midwest premiere of James MacMillan’s “St. John Passion” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, will take place at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Conductor Donald Nally will lead the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, the University Chorale, Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and University of Chicago Rockefeller Chapel Choir and Motet Choir. The combined ensembles bring together 220 musicians. In this contemporary Passion setting, a chamber choir will take on the role of the Evangelist. Baritone and Northwestern alumnus Evan Bravos is cast as the principal soloist, Christ. MacMillan’s Catholic faith is central to his creativity and brings an added dimension to this 21st-century magnum opus. The work will also be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 13, at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel (for more information, visit rockefeller.uchicago.edu). Concert tickets for Northwestern’s April 18 performance are $12 for the general public and $6 for students with valid IDs.

Ensemble Dal Niente will be joined by the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Quince Vocal Quartet at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. In 2012, Ensemble Dal Niente, a Chicago-based contemporary music collective, became the first-ever ensemble recipient of the Kranichstein Music Prize at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Germany. A contemporary female a cappella quartet, Quince regularly commissions new works and has appeared on New York’s Contagious Sounds series, a.per.io.dic’s John Cage Festival in Chicago and Brooklyn’s ISSUE Project Room. Also featuring the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, the program includes Brian Ferneyhough’s “Flurries” and music submitted by Northwestern University New Music Conference (NUNC) participants. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs. 

Northwestern’s University Chorale program at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, will explore the sounds of the earth at night and ponder the human race’s place among the stars. Conducted by Donald Nally and graduate assistants, this program includes works by American composers Samuel Barber, Morten Lauridsen, Randall Thompson and Lee Hoiby, as well as Finnish master Einojuhani Rautavaara. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for students with valid IDs.

• Alice Millar Spring Festival Concert, Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus,” 7 p.m. Sunday, May 18, Alice Millar Chapel. Few pieces better reflect Handel’s mastery of the oratorio genre than the monumental “Judas Macabaeus.” Offering sublime and bravura music, the work brims with exquisite arias and stirring choruses, including the famous “See the conquering hero comes.” Stephen Alltop will conduct the Alice Millar Chapel Choir and soloists and the Baroque Music Ensemble. An offering will be accepted.

The University Singers will present “Songs of the Heart” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Emily Ellsworth will conduct a mixed program of Brahms, Poulenc and contemporary American and world music focused on the theme of love. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for students with valid IDs.

The Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and the Contemporary Music Ensemble will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 30, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. A 20th-century classic, Stravinsky’s sparse and compact Mass will be paired with the Chicago-area premiere of “Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing,” written last year by Pulitzer laureate Steven Stucky to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy. The austerity of Stravinsky’s Mass, with its roots in Russian Orthodoxy, is balanced by Stucky’s lyricism and contemporary harmonies. Timothy J. Robblee and Donald Nally will conduct. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for students with valid IDs.

Northwestern’s Women’s Chorus will present an exploration of sacred and secular music for women’s voices in celebration of spring at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 2. This off-campus concert will take place at First United Methodist Church, 516 Church Street, in Evanston. The program will be conducted by Bienen School graduate student Christopher Windle. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for students with valid IDs.

Topics: Campus Life