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Choir of the North kicks off 50th-anniversary celebration

Submitted by John Hopkins
Phone: (907) 474-6983


The University of Alaska Fairbanks Choir of the North will kick off its 50th-anniversary celebration with a performance of the Brahms "German Requiem" conducted by John Hopkins Saturday, April 29, at 8 p.m., in the Charles W. Davis Concert Hall. The Choir of the North will be joined by a number of alumni and the Fairbanks Choral Arts Orchestra for the performance.

Tickets are available in the UAF music department, from members of the ensembles and at the door. Admission for the event is $10 for adults and $5 for students, military and senior citizens.

The concert will include performances by guest soloists soprano Christina Major and baritone Andrew Garland. Major recently sang to rave reviews with opera companies across the United States, including the Santa Fe Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera San Jose, Ft. Worth Opera and the Des Moines Metro Opera. She has also had concert performances with the Phoenix, Delaware and Winston-Salem symphonies and will perform at Duke University this month. Likewise, Garland has been performing with the San Francisco Opera Center, Cincinnati Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and the Sorg Opera Company and will be joining the Seattle Opera for the 2006-2007 season. He regularly performs major works with orchestra and includes a number of solo recitals in his performance schedule this year.

"Ein deutsches Requiem" (A German Requiem) was composed in 1867 by Johannes Brahms. It is not a traditional liturgical equiem, but was freely composed to biblical texts selected and compiled by Brahms. Brahms was making a statement when he did not use the standard Catholic Latin text, but chose the vernacular, German, instead. The piece was intended for Protestant use, but in concert setting. Also important was the thrust of the texts which Brahms selected. It was to comfort the living--those who had lost loved ones--rather than commemorating the lives or praying for the souls of those who had died. The universal theme presented underlies the idea that sorrow will be turned to joy.

The Choir of the North is Alaska's longest-standing choral organization, having been in existence since 1957. This major ensemble serves as a training ground for UAF students who are preparing to become professional musicians and music educators. For students with other majors, the Choir of the North provides an outlet for their musical abilities while they pursue their chosen course of study. During the past 50 years, the choir has had only three conductors. It was organized by Glenn Berg, who was with the organization for about three years. He was followed by Charles Davis, for whom the Davis Concert Hall was named, who conducted the choir for 16 years. The remainder of the time the ensemble has been under the direction and guidance of its current conductor, Hopkins.

The 50th-anniversary celebration will continue during the next academic year with a series of special performances. Hopkins would like to encourage other Choir of the North alumni from the community who would be interested in singing with the group and helping with the celebration to contact him directly.

For more information, please call the university music department at (907) 474-7555 or John Hopkins at (907) 474-6983.