Longtime conductor Ward Jamison will make his final appearance with the Allegheny College choirs during the annual spring concert on April 14 at 4 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium on the Allegheny campus.
The performance, which is free, will include both a cappella and accompanied sacred and secular choral works. The Choir, Chamber Choir, Women’s Ensemble and Chorus will perform separately, then combine to present excerpts from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” The concert will feature soprano Vicki Jamison and pianists Alec Chien and Wendy Plyler in addition to the 150 singers. This will be the final appearance with these choirs of conductor Ward Jamison, who will retire at the end of the summer after 31 years as Allegheny’s director of choral activities.
The Chorus will begin the concert with examples of three familiar genres of choral music: the motet, the spiritual and the madrigal. The Hans Leo Hassler motet “Cantate Domino” is a setting of the text of Psalm 95. “Hear My Prayer” is a haunting African-American spiritual by Moses Hogan. “All Ye Who Music Love,” an Italian madrigal by Baldassare Donato, will be sung to its more familiar English text by Thomas Oliphant.
The 17 members of the Chamber Choir are selected by solo auditions from among those who have already won a place in the College Choir. They will open their portion of the concert with “Au joli jeu,” a flirtatious French chanson by 16th-century composer Clement Janequin. They will then sing a Latin sacred motet, “Adoramus te,” by the 18th-century Italian composer Quirino Gasparini. Contemporary American composer Paul Page has set a traditional Spanish proverb, “Donde hay,” which features both the original Spanish text and its English translation. The sarcastic wit of Dorothy Parker supplies the text for “Shantey,” a recitation of the charms of sailing, composed by Daniel Gawthrop.
Pianist Plyler, adjunct instructor in piano at Allegheny, will join the 25-voice Women’s Ensemble for “Father William,” composed by Irving Fine on words from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” They will then sing “In Monte Oliveti,” a motet for Maundy Thursday by the 18th-century Italian composer Padre Martini. The women will conclude with “Hey Nonny No,” a stirring admonition to enjoy life, by American composer Crystal LaPoint Kowalski.
The oldest of Allegheny’s choral groups, the College Choir, will perform one piece by Johannes Brahms and two works by Ralph Vaughan Williams. From the Brahms setting of David’s penitent Psalm 51 the Choir will sing the opening movement, “Schaffe in mir, Gott.” Two highly contrasting works by Vaughan Williams are examples of his craft in shaping both sacred and secular texts. From John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” he composed a motet about Mister Valiant-for-Truth and how he faced death without fear. “Just as the Tide was Flowing” is a sea chantey, full of the optimism and romance of spring.
The four choirs will combine at the end of the concert to present the final five movements from Carl Orff’s monumental “Carmina Burana.” Originally written for orchestra and singers, the accompaniment for this performance will be played by pianist Alec Chien, professor of music and chairperson of the Allegheny Music Department. The soprano soloist will be Vicki Jamison, adjunct instructor in voice and the choirs’ vocal coach.
Upon Ward Jamison’s retirement, the choirs will be led by James Niblock, who comes to Allegheny from the faculty of Colgate University. An Allegheny graduate from the Class of 1997, Niblock received his master’s degree from Binghamton University and his doctoral degree from the University of Connecticut before beginning his college teaching career at Colgate.