Performs with the Cleveland Orchestra
The Oberlin College Choir performed Bach's Cantata No. 56,
Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, with the Cleveland Orchestra
and bass-baritone soloist Thomas Quasthoff at a March concert in
Cleveland's Severance Hall.
Plain Dealer music critic Donald Rosenberg admired the program,
calling it "graceful and dignified as led by (Franz) Welser-Möst,
who gave the small ensemble ample space to clarify Bach's writing."
Rosenberg also commended the choir for its "stylishly light-toned
contribution in the chorale that ends the work." The program
included Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14, op. 135 and György
Kurtág's Grabsten für Stephan, op. 15c.
Welser-Möst, who will assume leadership of the Cleveland Orchestra
in the 2002-03 season, has served as the music director for the
Zurich Opera since 1995. Quasthoff's credentials include a
Grammy nomination in the Best Classical Vocal Performance category
for his recording of Brahms and Liszt lieder.
The Oberlin College Choir, a select ensemble of College and Conservatory
students, has a history of performing with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Each chance to do so, says Michael Slon, visiting instructor of
choral conducting, "presents a tremendous experience for Oberlin's
young musicians. The Cleveland Orchestra is perhaps the best in
the country. To hear an ensemble of this caliber, let alone perform
with it, is one of the greatest opportunities possible for these
Slon prepared the choir for its Cleveland performances. He believes
the experience was a formative one for choir members and strengthened
their sense of ensemble. "The particular stylistic demands
of singing Bach might have been new for some of these singers, but
I thought they were perfectly up to it," he says.
In fact, Slon has been pleased with the ensemble's work this
year. "These are very talented, intelligent, and inspired singers
with a tremendous work ethic. The challenge is to keep them growing
musically so they have a sense of the high-level ensemble music
making that is possible here at Oberlin. My goal is usually the
same: to lead and inspire a group to reach its potential and to
keep the process engaging by exposing singers to new repertoire
and performance opportunities."
In this respect, the Oberlin College Choir had an adventurous semester.
Besides the Severance Hall concerts, members of the group worked
with Moses Hogan '79, who brought his group, the Moses Hogan
Singers, to campus in February. The ensemble is also scheduled to
perform before years' end, under Slon's direction, a program
of baroque music with the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra and 20th-century
works with the Musical Union.
Founded in 1929 by Olaf C. Christiansen as the Oberlin A Cappella
Choir, the Oberlin College Choir performs a wide variety of a capella
and accompanied choral literature. In 1964, under the direction
of Robert Fountain, the ensemble sang 39 concerts in the former
Soviet Union and Romania as part of the Cultural Exchange Program
of the U.S. State Department. Since 1997, the choir has been conducted
by Assistant Professor of Choral Conducting Hugh Floyd, who is on
sabbatical this year.
-Jennifer Spitulnik '01
A Record Year for Gregory Fulkerson;
Oberlin Percussion Group Joins Tour
Professor of Violin Gregory Fulkerson has had a record year.
His recording of Bach's sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied
violin, on the Bridge label, made The New Yorker's short
list: "Disks of Distinction." Fulkerson "combines
a thorough knowledge of early-music techniques with the generous
warmth of the mainstream tradition, filtered through the attentive
ears of a first-class new-music player," wrote Russell Platt
in the January 15 issue. On the other side of the Atlantic, England's
Classic FM magazine lauded his "uncontainable energy
and gloriously full-bodied sound."
Fulkerson's February performance of Aaron Jay Kernis's Air
with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society was broadcast on WNYC
radio. Returning to New York, in March, Fulkerson presented a program
of new music at Merkin Concert Hall, featuring the Oberlin Percussion
by Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen, who founded the ensemble
in 1972, the OPG is known for premiering and performing new percussion
works. Fulkerson, too, has been active in commissioning, performing,
and recording music by prominent American composers.
The Merkin program included a piece by Oberlin alumnus David Schober
'96, Empty Shells along with Richard Wernick's
Sonata for Violin and Piano, Donald Erb's Sonata for Solo Violin
and Stacy Garrop's Neurotichotomy. Pianist Charles Abramovic
accompanied Fulkerson, and the OPG joined him for the grand finale--the
original version of Michael Daugherty's 1986 Lex, written
for Fulkerson. The works performed at Merkin Hall were all either
written for or commissioned by Fulkerson; all but one were New York
Fulkerson then performed Lex with the OPG in March at Yale
University, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and the Manhattan
School of Music. For these performances, Rosen conducted the OPG
in a program of works by François Rose, Mary Ellen Childs,
Walter Ross, Peter Child, and William Hubbel.
Since winning first prize in the 1980 International American Music
Competition, Fulkerson has performed more than 35 different concerti
with orchestra including New York appearances with the Philadelphia
and American symphony orchestras. In 1992 he performed the role
of Einstein in a world-tour revival of Philip Glass' landmark Einstein
on the Beach which he also recorded for the Nonesuch label.
His Bridge-label CD set of the violin sonatas of Charles Ives has
become the standard version of those works.
OPG has commissioned works by such composers as Ed Miller, Richard
Hoffman, Dary John Mizelle, Randy Coleman, and Michael Daugherty.
The ensemble has also performed the American premieres of several
works by Japanese and European composers, including the first American
performance of Pleides by Iannis Xenakis, Prelude
by Riccardo Malipiero, Con Luigi Dallapiccola by Luigi Nono,
and Voûtes by Michaël Levinas.
An extensive collection of Western percussion instruments helps
make such performances possible. Rosen welcomes and encourages composers
to send scores for performance by the OPG.
In 1984, the OPG won the Percussion Ensemble Contest sponsored by
the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), and it performed Persephassa
at the PAS International Convention in Washington, D.C. The ensemble
was again featured in 1990 at a PAS convention. The group has made
several recordings for the Opus One, Lumina, and CRI labels.
Members of the OPG who toured this spring are Hudie Broughton, a
junior from Duluth, Minnesota; Reagan Fletcher, a senior from Canandaigua,
New York; Scott Forth, a senior from Buffalo, New York; Tim McKay,
a sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia; Adam Sliwinski, a senior from
Hudson, Ohio; and John Tarcza, a senior from Alexandria, Virginia.
-Marci Janas '91
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