Kent State Orchestra and Choirs to collaborate in final concert

Lily Martis

The sound of more than 200 musicians and singers will fill the University Auditorium at Cartwright Hall as the Kent State University Orchestra and choirs come together to collaborate in their final performance of the season.

This fourth and final performance of the Orchestra Subscription Series will take place on Sunday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. and will include the KSU Orchestra, Chorale and Chorus, as well as the regional Salem Communiversity Chorus and the Stark Campus Chorale.

Beginning the concert, the orchestra will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage” under the direction of Dr. Charles Latshaw, the director of orchestra at Kent State. According to Latshaw, the piece is a combination of two different poems written by Goethe, one titled “Calm Sea,” the other, “Prosperous Voyage.”

“The piece starts with a calm sea, which is something we would normally want, but for somebody in Mendelssohn’s time, when all the ships were powered by the wind, a calm sea was a disaster,” Latshaw said. “Mendelssohn writes it in a way that’s very beautiful but with certain elements of danger hidden underneath.”

As the wind picks up in the piece, the music will end on a happier note.

The second and final piece of the concert will feature the collaboration between the orchestra and choirs in their presentation of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.” Conducting this group of 200 is Dr. Scott MacPherson, the director of choral activities at Kent State.

“The more people on stage, the more difficult it is to hold everyone together and create a clean, professional performance,” MacPherson said, “but by the end of the last rehearsal, we can smile and say, ‘Hey, we have something here.’”

While the orchestra is a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors, the choirs include students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community.

Four separate soloists will also be featured throughout the 11 sections of the Mass, one of which includes Brian Keith Johnson, a full-time music teacher and professional opera singer.

“Having the opportunity to perform great music with great people is always a high point in my life,” Johnson said. “Kent always produces such quality work, which is why I keep coming back. I’m looking forward to continuing that relationship.”

Dedicated to Lord Nelson, Haydn’s Mass was composed during the Napoleonic Wars during a time of distress and ends with the traditional plead for peace.

“We only have one shot on Sunday night to show what we’ve worked on,” MacPherson said. “Everybody has really put their hearts very strongly into this performance, and I hope they will relax and have fun and really express themselves the way they should once it starts.”

Both the performers and the director look forward to their presentation of Haydn’s greatest composition for orchestra and chorus this weekend.

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Contact Lily Martis at [email protected].