All about animals: Concert choir to perform

The Concert Choir of Washington University — under the direction of John Stewart, director of vocal activities in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences — will perform a concert of music about animals at 8 p.m. April 16 in Graham Chapel.

The performance, titled Animal Planet, is free and open to the public.

The program will feature what is only the second performance of “The Manatees at Blue Springs” by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan, who will attend.

The piece, which premiered in 2004 at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., is based on a poem by Lewis Hyde and wittily describes the history of the manatee (a large aquatic mammal with paddle-like forelimbs) and its difficulties in sharing its Florida habitat with man.

Soprano Amy Schwarz, a junior from St. Louis, and pianist Sandra Geary, staff accompanist and coach, are soloists for the work.

Also on the program are “Listen to the Lambs” by Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943), one of the first African-American composers to be recognized in the field of classical music; and a setting of William Blake’s lyric poem “The Lamb” by the English composer Sir John Tavener.

Other works are “Who’s Who in the Zoo” by Jean Berger, which is set to humorous rhymes of Ogden Nash, and “Little Lamb” by Marshall Bartholomew.

Spratlan is a native of Miami and a professor of music composition and music theory at Amherst College. He won the Pulitzer in 2000 for his opera Life Is a Dream, based on a play by the 17th-century Spanish dramatist Pedro Calderón.

Other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as top prize in the Rockefeller Foundation-New England Conservatory Opera Competition.

For more information, call 935-4841.