BPC Concert Choir and Choral Society makes Carnegie Hall debut
|The BPC Choir and Choral Society prior to its Carnegie Hall debut June 27, 2010.
By Kelley M. Arnold
Director of News and Public Information
MOUNT VERNON—Brewton-Parker College’s Concert Choir and Choral Society recently made history. This talented group of students, faculty and staff members and members from the community performed on the hallowed stage of Carnegie Hall, the premier performance venue for emerging and established artists throughout the United States.
|John Rutter leads practice prior to the performance of his Requiem at Carnegie Hall. The BPC Concert Choir and Choral Society performed in the presentation.
The Brewton-Parker College Concert Choir, led by Dr. Sonja Sepulveda, and joined by Palmetto Voices presented a special Prelude Concert at 1 p.m. on the Perelman Stage Sunday, June 27. The Palmetto Voices are alumni singers from Dr. Sepulveda’s years of teaching in South Carolina. The Choral Society members performed hand bells and instrumental accompaniment to the Brewton-Parker chorus in this historic debut.
The Brewton-Parker combined voices joined with 12 other volunteer choirs as Maestro John Rutter led the New England Symphonic Ensemble and soprano Sherri Seiden in his own “Requiem” at 2 p.m. following the prelude concert.
“It was amazing,” expressed Dr. Sepulveda, her face shining with excitement and pride as she talked about her choirs and the hard work necessary to be invited to such an important cultural venue. After all, the old saying is true: “The only way to get to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice.”
“These students and chorus members are just outstanding. Many times life offers us those moments that redefine our world and how we view ourselves. This concert will do this for many of the singers in the BPC Concert Choir. This year they overcame money barriers, reached outside their comfort zone, and shared their passion and love for music. I am proud to lead them as their conductor in this special new world of music and performance.”
Hildegard Stanley of Vidalia, former chair of the division of music and traveling member of the BPC Choral Society, was overwhelmed by the music and its Christian message in the “Requiem”.
“Can’t say it is better than church, but it was similar in its deep spiritual moments because the conductor was the composer. You could see it on his face exactly what he wanted to portray in music. The music is scriptural and talks about the Resurrection of Christ,” said Stanley. “It was like preaching a sermon. He wrote this (piece of) music after the death of his father.”
“Rutter admits he is not a conductor but no one could have done it better,” adds Stanley, who serves the college as consultant to the president for external relations. “Practically every school and church will have performed some work by John Rutter because he is so prolific in his writing.”
|Dr. Sonja Sepulveda, left, leads the BPC Concert Choir in a practice prior to its Carnegie Hall debut June 27, 2010. (Photos provided by Christina Trowell)
The performance was cast by MidAmerica Productions, and interestingly, there is a Brewton-Parker College tie there as well. MidAmerica Productions’ President and Executive Director, Norman Dunfee, is a former BPC piano professor. Stanley hired Dunfee in 1977. He worked at the college for one year before he obtained his doctorate (D.M.A.) from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music.
“It was Norman who made the decision to include us in this performance, and he asked us to perform in the special prelude concert,” explained Sepulveda. “I have performed with my high school chorus in Sumter (S.C.) previously several times, and there was that connection. We had received several invitations and this year, it worked out for us.”
Dr. Stanley laughs as she recalls her and Norman’s discussion in New York when they visited with each other again: “He actually reminded me when I saw him that I required him to play the organ for the Messiah the year he was here – and he’s a piano player, not an organist. However, he did a wonderful job.”
The prelude concert included performances of Sweelinck’s Hodie Christus Natus Est, Brahms’ Bei Nächlicher Weil, Hindemith’s Puisque tous passe, Schubert’s Der Tanz, and Eric Whitacre’s The Seal Lullaby, among other works. Doug Pittman, tenor, performed a solo in “America the Beautiful”. Soloists for “Bethlehemu” (arr. B. Brooks) were Michael Loredo, Cindy Rollins and Dallas Wilke. Instrumentalists for the piece were Brys Sepulveda, Christina Trowell, Mandy Madson, Jared Register, Dru Sepulveda and Cody Smith. Tenor Herbert Johnson, a former student of Dr. Sepulveda and a high school choral director, was the soloist for “In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin”, a well-known spiritual that rallied the audience at the close of the performance.
Stanley explains the prelude concert was “received so well because of its variety.”
“They did the languages – singing four numbers in language: Latin, German and French. They also did ‘The Seal Lullaby’, which is a lovely, lilting melody that contrasted to all they had done before. ‘Betelehemu’ involved the audience, having them participate in making the sounds of the rainforest and the choir making bird calls. Because of audience participation, they were almost on their feet by the time that was over. We ended with that very familiar spiritual, ‘In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’’,” said Stanley.
Fifty-three members from Brewton-Parker College’s family performed at Carnegie Hall. They are listed according to their ensemble.
BPC Concert Choir and BPC students: Mystie Bennett of Kathleen; Brittney Black of Vidalia; Brett Bogus of Bowdon, Rebecca Brady of Sylvester, Elijah Cliett of Milledgeville; Barbara Sue Crane of Baxley; Nikki Cross of Butler; Caroline Foster of Griffin; Marcia Groover of Tarrytown; Robert Hilton of Hinesville; Steven Hopper of Monticello; Stephanie Huff of Macon; Summer LaFavor of Helena; Michael Loredo of Blackshear; Mandy Madson of Jacksonville, Fla.; Kara Norris of Blackshear; Clint Oliver of Claxton; Doug Pittman of Eastman; and, Jared Register of Vidalia.
Also, Kathryn and Sarah Ring of Mount Vernon; Cindy Rollins of Columbus; Reese Simmons of Griffin; Cody Smith of Helena; Christina Trowell of Waycross; Dallas Wilke of Elkton, Fla.; Chesley Woods of Hazlehurst; Julia Owusu of Norcross; Jaimie Phillips of Sylvester; and, Anthony Purcell of Savannah.
BPC Faculty and Staff: Dr. Sonja Sepulveda, Kathy Duren and Dr. Glenn Eernisse.
BPC Choral Society: Christie Roller, Shawna Felkel, Janet Hale, Sue Outlaw, Andrea Towns, Rev. Gilbert Westberry, Jackie Smith and Hildegard Stanley.
Palmetto Voices: Steven Andrews, Amanda Ragan, Brys Sepulveda, Dru Sepulveda, Heather Sepulveda, Lisa Halter, Christina Infelise, Herbert Johnson and Beth Tuten.
Other choruses participating in the Rutter “Requiem” included choirs from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Nebraska, Wisconsin and another choir from Georgia, the McDonough First United Methodist Chancel Choir.
Both events were MidAmerica Productions. As an independent producer of classical concerts, MidAmerica presents soloists, choral, and instrumental ensembles from around the world in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. MidAmerica also presents concerts in Europe and, since 2000, in Syros, Greece, as Festival of the Aegean. To date, MidAmerica Productions has produced more than
1000 concerts worldwide.
Brewton-Parker College is the only accredited four-year Christian college in south Georgia.