The Masterwork

by Lauren Turner on April 28, 2019

We have tons of incredible music opportunities here at Lawrence, many of them due to our amazing conservatory of music on campus. There are a lot of different students involved with music on campus. One of the more official sources of music on campus are the ensembles, led by members of the faculty. There are numerous groups, ranging from orchestra and choir to jazz and Gamelan. All of these ensembles perform in concerts throughout the year. However, there is one concert that stands out the most: the masterwork.

The masterwork occurs in the middle of spring term every year. It brings both the orchestra and all of the choirs (Viking Chorale, Cantala, and Concert Choir) together into one huge concert and performance. It is truly an amazing experience. Although the masterwork occurs every year, the conductor changes every year, alternating between three conductors; the director of Cantala, Phillip Swan, the director for Concert Choir and Viking Chorale, Steven Sieck, and the director for the orchestra, Mark Dupere. As a sophomore, I have had the luck to be in the masterwork two times. Last year, we performed two incredible pieces (conducted by Steven Sieck), I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes and Done Made My Vow, both composed by Adolphus Hailstork, an African American composer. Those were both incredible pieces, and it was such an honor to perform them.

This year we performed 4 different pieces, brought in a much different direction by our director this year, Phillip Swan. We performed I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me by Parry, Chichester Psalms by Bernstein, O Clap Your Hands by Rutter, and finally Stabat Mater by Mealor. All of these works were incredible, and a lot of hard work.

Although our concert occurred just a few days ago, there is no mistaking the amount of work that we put into the performance. There is a lot of work, and rehearsals, that occur behind the scenes. From the beginning, the more advanced choirs, Cantala and Concert Choir, rehearse 4 times a week on the music with the conductor. Usually Viking Chorale will not perform in all of the concert, as they only have 2 rehearsal times a week. The orchestra also rehearses 4 times a week as well. Much of the work in the beginning of the term is within the specific ensembles, making sure that the music is solid and each group has a good grasp of the pieces. Once it gets closer to the concert though, we get to rehearse together, choirs and orchestra, many of these rehearsals occurring twice a week and lasting several hours each time. However, it all goes towards this amazing experience and concert! It is an amazing thing to be a part, and I am so lucky to have experienced this two years in a row. It is an incredible part of Lawrence and the music they perform.

Lawrence University choirs and orchestra performing the works of Adolphus Hailstork last year

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