Washington University Concert Choir & Symphony Orchestra to present Chancellor’s Concert May 1

Event to feature new harp, organ and piano; music of Berlioz, Mendelssohn and Respighi

The Washington University Symphony Orchestra and the Washington University Chamber Choir will present the 2005 Chancellor’s Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1, in Graham Chapel.

The program, which includes works by Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn and Ottorino Respighi, will highlight two recently acquired instruments — a new harp and a new grand piano — as well as Graham Chapel’s newly restored Roland Quest organ.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Washington University Symphony Orchestra and Washington University Chamber Choir

WHAT: 2005 Chancellor’s Concert

PROGRAM: Music of Berlioz, Mendelssohn and Respighi

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1

WHERE: Graham Chapel, just north of Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST: Free

INFORMATION: (314) 935-4841

The Chancellor’s Concert is free and open to the public. Graham Chapel is located immediately north of the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-4841.

Dan Presgrave, instrumental music coordinator in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, conducts the 75-member symphony orchestra. John Stewart, director of vocal activities, conducts the 65-member Chamber Choir.

The program opens with Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture (1844), which contains music from his opera Benvenuto Cellini (1838), about the Italian goldsmith and sculptor. Renowned Berlioz scholar Hugh Macdonald, Ph.D., the Avis H. Blewett Professor of Music, noted that, “of all Berlioz’s overtures, Roman Carnival is the one that best reveals his brilliant, in fact breathtaking, orchestral gifts.”

The program continues with Mendelssohn’s cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht, op. 60, with texts based on an early study of the Faust story by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Stewart selected the piece, which includes a frenetic witches’ dance, to coincide with the date of the concert: According to German legend, Walpurgisnacht is a nocturnal gathering of witches that takes place on the eve of May Day.

The program concludes with Respighi’s The Pines of Rome (1923-24), which musically depicts four stands of pine trees located throughout that city. Notably, the piece employs all three of the university’s new instruments — piano, organ and harp — as well as eight trumpets with full orchestra. Its famous finale, “The Pines of the Appian Way,” dramatically reproduces the pounding footsteps of the Roman Army.

The university’s new harp — a gift from alumna Audrey Senturia — was selected by Sue Taylor, Ph.D., instructor in applied music, at Lyon & Healy in Chicago, the nation’s most renowned maker of harps. The instrument, known as the “orchestral model,” was chosen for both its brilliant tone and its suitability for harp students.

Also heard will be the chapel’s Roland Quest organ, which made its debut last January; and Music’s new nine-foot Steinway grand piano, recently acquired thanks to a gift from Priscilla McDonnell, former president of Washington University’s Friends of Music.