Chancellor’s Concert to feature new commissions

The Washington University Symphony Orchestra and Washington University Chamber Choir will present the 2004 Chancellor’s Concert at 3 p.m. April 25 in Graham Chapel.

The concert is free and open to the public. It will feature the premiere of three new compositions — commissioned for the University’s Sesquicentennial — by Harold Blumenfeld, John MacIvor Perkins and Robert Wykes, professors emeriti from the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

“The Department of Music is fortunate to have three professors emeriti in theory and composition who are actively composing today,” concert coordinator Sue Taylor said. “It is particularly exciting that, in this, the University’s Sesquicentennial year, these composers are making fresh and original contributions to 21st-century music.”

Dan Presgrave, instrumental music coordinator in the music department, conducts the 75-member symphony orchestra. John Stewart, director of vocal activities, conducts the 65-member chamber choir.

The program will open with Wykes’ Celebration Fanfare. Scored for 13 brass instruments and percussion, the piece’s rhythmic content is based loosely on the speech rhythms of the University’s motto, “Per Veritatem Vis” (Strength Through Truth).

Also to be featured is Perkins’ After and Before, written specifically for the Washington University Symphony Orchestra, contrasts sections of nostalgic remembrance with active engagement of the present and quiet, reflective looks toward the future.

Blumenfeld’s For Sion! Oh Thee: Choral Cycle in Five Parts After Byron is a setting of five Byron poems. Featured performers will be soprano Debra Hillabrand and tenor Clark Sturdevant, both graduate students in vocal performance; clarinetist Paul Garritson, who teaches in the Department of Music; and cellist Elizabeth Macdonald, director of strings.

The program will conclude with Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor (From the New World). The piece was written in 1893, during the composer’s time in New York as director of the National Conservatory of Music. This year marks the centennial of his death.

Wykes, who served on faculty from 1955-1988, has written for film, theater and modern dance, in addition to his concert compositions. His major orchestral works have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Perkins, who served on faculty from 1970-2001, is the composer of some 35 works, including two one-act operas; several songs for voice and piano; and various compositions for orchestra, chorus, chamber groups and solo piano.

Blumenfeld, who served on faculty from 1950-1989, directed the Washington University/Civic Opera Theatre from 1962-1971. He was the first composer to devote extensive attention to the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, culminating in 1996 with the two-act opera Seasons in Hell.

For more information, call 935-4841.

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