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Major Notre Dame choirs join voices

LAUREN WENDEL | Wednesday, February 23, 2005

One rarely has the opportunity to hear several accomplished musicians perform masterpieces of classical music, let alone to hear them in one arena. The Notre Dame department of music is providing the opportunity to do just that on Saturday in “A Joint Concert” at 8 p.m. in the Leighton Concert Hall. It will mark the official “big bang event” by Notre Dame ensembles and soloists to inaugurate the Debartolo Center for the Performing Arts.The event will feature a wide range of performers including the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra lead by Daniel Stowe, the Notre Dame Chorale lead by Alex Blachly, the Notre Dame Glee Club, the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir lead by Gail Walton and the Women’s Liturgical Choir. Three accomplished soloists, Carolyn Plummer (violin), Karen Buranskas (cello) and John Blacklow (piano), will also showcase their talents for the community. The set will include some of the finest classical music composed from the First Viennese School. The orchestra, comprised of about 60 musicians from the student body, faculty and staff, will skillfully display the wit and color of Mozart’s “Overture to Die Zauberflote” (Overture to Magic Flute). The orchestra will also provide background accompaniment for the three soloist musicians on Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto,” as well as for the collaborative effort of all the singing ensembles in Haydn’s “Harmoniemesse.” These groups were brought together by the department of music to commemorate the opening of the new Center for the Performing Arts with a gala event “using our own forces” according to music director Alex Blachly. “We want to change the feeling of what Notre Dame and the [surrounding] area stands for in music – to show that people do not have to travel to Chicago or other places to listen to classical music performed on this scale,” he said.The Notre Dame Chorale has been preparing Haydn’s material for the past two years, singing four out of the five movements between fall and spring performances. The group is comprised of 55 voices specializing in choral works from the Renaissance to present. Combined with the Glee Club, Liturgical Choir and Women’s Liturgical Choir, there will be over 200 voices singing at once, lending to a powerful and overwhelmingly inspiring force of music that should not disappoint. Haydn’s last major work, “Harmoniemesse,” highlights his range of options and strengths as a composer, particularly with the winds. The name of the work “Harmoniemesse” is derived directly from this choir of winds or “harmonie.” Haydn is often noted for his talent for surprise and striking effects of the composition that leave even the most knowledgeable musician stunned. Three graduate students and one undergraduate student from the music department will perform solos in this piece, directly illustrating the healthy state of music performance on campus.The three accomplished soloists – Plummer, Buranskas and Blacklow – will prove to be one of many highlights of the concert. Performing Beethoven’s powerful and simplistically sophisticated “Triple Concerto” simultaneously with the Symphony Orchestra will provide an intimate yet dramatic setting. The concert hall itself lends to creating a chamber arrangement but also gives the illusion of a large orchestra. A three dimensionality is at play with this performance in particular, which will emphasize the skill level of each musician and produce a powerful experience for the listening pleasure of the audience. The combination of these concerto ensembles will prove to be an unforgettable experience. Blachly describes the experience perfectly saying, “once you experience and hear a new form of music, you want to repeat it and hear more.” Tickets are on sale at the Debartolo Center for the Performing Arts at $3 for students and $6 for general public.