Lawrence University Concert Choir

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Lawrence University Concert Choir Performing at National Choral Convention

APPLETON, WIS. — The Lawrence University Concert Choir, under the direction of Richard Bjella, will enjoy a pair of spotlight moments when it performs March 7 at the American Choral Directors’ Association national convention in Oklahoma City. With more than 20,000 members, the ACDA is the world’s largest choral organization and several thousand choral leaders of the nation’s best choirs will be attending the convention.

Lawrence was selected from nearly 300 performance applications from choirs around the country. Only 20 choirs were selected for performances during the convention and Lawrence was one of just four mixed college/university choirs chosen to perform. The concert choir will have the privilege of performing twice on the convention’s final day, singing both in the morning and again during the conference’s final performance slot.

The 56-member choir, which includes freshmen through seniors, music and non-music majors, will sing a diverse program at the convention, covering late 16th century to 21st century music that spans the globe from Argentina to Australia. Selections include “Les Voici!,” a chorus from Bizet’s “Carmen,” Stephen Leek’s “Knowee” which debuted in 2008, and Philippe Rogier’s “Laboravi in gemitu meo.” The performance will be held at the 2,600-seat Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall.

Lawrence was selected for the convention through a blind audition process. The audition CD had to include recordings from three consecutive years of performances, insuring a history of high-quality work from the auditioning choir. In 2006, the Concert Choir was chosen to perform at the North Central ACDA regional convention in Omaha, Neb.

Bjella, professor of music, has served as the director of choral studies at Lawrence since 1984. A former president of the Wisconsin Choral Directors’ Association, Bjella has conducted more than 350 festivals and workshops in 25 states throughout the country, including appearances as the conductor of All-State choirs in Wisconsin, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. He also has extensive international guest conducting experience, leading choirs in London, Lucerne, Paris, Prague, Seoul and in 2006 directed the professional choir Polifonija on a four-city tour in Lithuania.

Lawrence Symphony Orchestra and Choirs Present a Mozart/Shostakovich Birthday Celebration

The Lawrence University Conservatory of Music will celebrate the 100th birthday of Dmitri Shostakovich and the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in two concert performances on Saturday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 23 at 3:00 p.m. The concerts will showcase the talents of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of David Becker, and the Lawrence University Concert Choir, Women’s Choir, Chorale, and White Heron Chorale, conducted by Richard Bjella. Special guest will be soloist Daniel Cilli.

Titled “A Birthday Celebration,” the concert will feature Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Op. 96, and The Execution of Stepan Razin, a poem for bass, chorus, and symphony orchestra, with introductory comments by Richard Yatzeck, professor of Russian at Lawrence University. In celebration of Mozart’s birthday, his Requiem, KV 626, will be performed and will include solos by conservatory faculty members Patrice Michaels, soprano, Karen Leigh-Post, mezzo-soprano, Steven Spears, tenor, and John Gates, bass.

Guest artist Daniel Cilli, baritone, has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood, and with the Utah Symphony and Opera, West Bay Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Amarillo Opera, and Central City Opera. He studied lieder at the Franz Schubert Institute in 2001, and attained performance degrees from Stetson University and New England Conservatory of Music.

Both performances will take place in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets are currently on sale at the Lawrence University Box Office, located in the Music-Drama Center, or by phone at 920-832-6749, and are $10 for adults, and $5 for senior citizens and students.