APPLETON — One of choral music’s premier music directors will serve as guest conductor for Lawrence University’s annual “EXPERIENCE Weekend” concert Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.
Simon Carrington, professor of choral conducting at Yale University and founding director of the Yale Schola Cantorum, will conduct the concert’s “Weekend Chorus,” a guest choir of 66 exceptional high school singers nominated by their respective choral directors.
The EXPERIENCE Weekend concert also includes performances by Lawrence’s Viking Chorale, Cantala Women’s Choir and Concert Choir, under the direction of conductors Richard Bjella and Phillp Swan. Accompanying the singers will be university organist Kathrine Handford and percussionist Dane Richeson.
Lawrence’s Concert Choir will perform a program it will reprise Saturday, March 7 at the 50th anniversary of the American Choral Directors Association’s national convention in Oklahoma City at the Civic Center Music-Hall. Lawrence was one of only four mixed university-college choirs nationally selected to perform at this year’s ACDA’s convention.
A native of England, Carrington has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as both a singer and a conductor. He was a founding member and original musical director of the internationally acclaimed British vocal ensemble The King’s Singers in 1968 and spent 25 years as the group’s creative force. He performed in more than 3,000 concerts and recitals with the group in many of the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls.
Since moving to the United States in 1994, Carrington has directed choral studies at the University of Kansas and the New England Conservatory before joining the faculty at Yale in 2003. He conducts regularly at some of the world’s leading venues, including the Monteverdi Choir Festival in Budapest, the Chamber Choir Festival in Sarteano, Italy and the Tokyo Cantat in Japan.
“Having watched Simon work as a singer when his superb group The King Singers performed at Lawrence many years ago and seeing him as both a clinician and conductor on several occasions, we are very lucky to have him back to work with all of our students as well as the outstanding high school students for the EXPERIENCE Weekend,” said Bjella, director of choral studies at Lawrence. “He brings a wealth of musical knowledge, vocal prowess, a superb sense of tuning and balance, and wit and wisdom to every festival setting.”
While featuring works from around the world, including Australia, Bulgaria, France and Venezuela, the concert will pay special tribute to British masterpieces, including works by Gustav Holst, baroque composer Henry Purcell and Thomas Weelkes. Highlighting the concert will be a closing performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Lord Thou hast been our refuge” by all three Lawrence choirs and the Weekend Chorus under the baton of Carrington.
Lawrence’s EXPERIENCE Weekend brings talented high school musicians to campus to participate in a high-caliber festival and support their interest in music. Singers from high schools in Appleton, Freedom, Green Bay, Kaukauna, Oshkosh, Port Washington, and Marysville, Wash., are represented at this year’s festival.