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Orchestra and Choir Concert
December 2 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Earlham College presents a thrilling concert featuring the Earlham College Orchestra joined by 25 members of the Richmond Symphony, and the Earlham Concert Choir joined by the IU East chorale and other guests. In honor of the holiday season, we perform music filled with joyful celebration and peaceful reflection.
The concert features Symphony No. 2 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and two choral masterpieces by British composers John Rutter (Gloria) and Benjamin Britten (Rejoice in the Lamb).
Forrest Tobey, Orchestra Director
Doug Shafer-Johnson, Choral Director
Vocal Soloists on Rejoice in the Lamb:
Elisabeth Kleinsmith, soprano; Steven Rickards, countertenor;
Elijah Bowen, tenor; Nathan Skky, baritone
Symphony No. 2 by Jean Sibelius
The great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote his second symphony in the opening years of the 20th Century. It is one of his most celebrated and popular works (after Finlandia). The first movement is filled with a searching spirit; various musical themes along with their underlying emotional underpinnings vie for attention. The middle movement is marked Vivacissimo (as fast as possible), but it is balanced with a slow lyrical section of aching beauty, led by a haunting folk-like melody in the oboe. This movement proceeds without pause into the finale, whose simple motto swells into a triumphant and joyful conclusion. It is incredibly uplifting music.
Rejoice in the Lamb by Benjamin Britten
This is a 1943 setting, by the British composer Benjamin Britten, of a wild, ecstatic poem written by the brilliant (but mentally unstable) poet Christopher Smart in 1760, when he was confined to an asylum. It is filled with both joyful and reflective imagery unique to Smart’s imagination, such as how cats, mice, and flowers all partake in the worship of God. The music is considered one of Britten’s most brilliant choral compositions. The work concludes with a wonderful evocation of a time in the future when “the devils themselves are at peace” and all of humanity experiences “a remarkable stillness and serenity of soul.” May it be so.
Gloria by John Rutter
The British composer John Rutter wrote this exalted and exuberant setting of the Latin text of the Gloria, with its familiar opening “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” in 1974; he revised it in the 1980s. Originally written for choir, brass and organ, we perform the later setting for choir and full symphony orchestra. It is filled with contemporary Impressionist harmonies and a very accessible and communicative music style, sure to fill your soul with joy. The brass section from the RSO is a special feature of this performance.
Musical settings of the Gloria go back to the earliest period in the history of Western classical music, appearing first as Gregorian chant. Rutter uses the original chant melody for the Gloria as a basis for this contemporary setting. Other composers have also set this text using music of great exuberance, including Vivaldi, Saint-Saëns, and Poulenc, but Rutter’s version captures the joyful spirit and music of our times. Hearing this music in the intimate setting of Lingle Recital Hall will envelope you with sound.
Within the Christian tradition, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” are the words that the angels sang to the shepherds when announcing the birth of Christ. Other parts of the text are filled with words of peaceful reflection and heartfelt praise. It is a universal wish that joy and peace may fill our souls.