157-voice chorus, three soloists set for 'Carmina'

chorus rehearsalThe voices of a 157-voice chorus and three soloists will provide the sonic backdrop to the modern hip-hop choreography of Nicholasleichterdance in “Carmina Burana” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

Julie Pretzat, professor and chair of music at SUNY Oswego, will direct the musicians, comprised of the College Choir and Oswego Festival Chorus. The two choral groups have been practicing separately for a few hours per week since September, Pretzat said.

The show will feature three soloists: soprano Julianna Sabol, who chairs Syracuse University’s voice department; baritone Kent Bradshaw, seen often on local and regional stages; and countertenor Dan Williams, a SUNY Oswego senior music major from Weedsport.

Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” which debuted in 1937, sets 24 Medieval Latin poems dating to around the 13th century into a contemporary narrative. Having verses of Latin that sometimes include Germanic pronunciations has been the biggest challenge, Pretzat said.

“There are many verses, and they are in an unfamiliar language,” Pretzat explained. “I’ve read the translations for them so the singers can have an idea what is happening. The music itself is not that hard.”

Karen Nicholas, a professor of history at SUNY Oswego and longtime member of the community-oriented Oswego Festival Chorus, noted that there are little bits of French and Italian in the text as well, but that the nature of the piece makes it a pleasant experience.

“The attractiveness is that they’re talking about the springtime of life, the springtime of love,” Nicholas said. “They are very cheerful songs, enjoyable to perform and enjoyable to listen to, so it’s no surprise they remain so well-known.”

For that reason, Pretzat said it was easy to recruit singers for the production. “This is a piece that’s so popular, something everyone wants to say they have sung,” she said.

Williams said performing his solo, “Olim lacus colueram” (“The Song of the Roasted Swan”) is a real honor for a student. He credited Todd Graber and other members of the music faculty with four years of lessons and continuing support for the many hours of rehearsal.

“Because the song is so high, it really calls for the reinforced falsetto singing that I will do,” said Williams, who also will join the Oswego Festival Chorus for the last two sections of the production. “It is something I may go into for further studies as a vocalist.”

Two SUNY Oswego faculty members, Robert Auler and Rebecca Horning, will serve as piano accompanists.

The singers, ranging from high school age to people in their 70s and who will be dressed in black in the background, look forward to seeing Nicholasleichterdance’s participation, Nicholas said.

“What’s unique is doing this piece with a modern dance troupe,” Nicholas said. “None of us have seen that yet. I think we’re all curious to see how this will work with contemporary dancing.”

The event is presented by the college’s Student Association Programming Board, Artswego Performing Arts Series and music department.

Tickets to “Carmina Burana” cost $16 ($12 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). For information or reservations, contact Tyler box office at 312-2141 or tickets@oswego.edu.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Tuning up—From left, John Bifone, Kristopher Vicencio and Megan Hess, SUNY Oswego students in the College Choir, rehearse for the upcoming production of “Carmina Burana” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. The College Choir and the Oswego Festival Chorus will team up to create a 157-voice ensemble joined by three soloists and the modern hip-hop choreography of Nicholasleichterdance for the production.

(Posted: Nov 22, 2006)