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Musical forces combine

April 12, 2012
By ZACH KUKKONEN - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - For the first time since 2009, the Michigan Tech Concert Choir and Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra will combine at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts as they perform Ralph Vaughan Williams' war cantata, "Dona Nobis Pacem."

Joined by soloists Lara Neves and Nathan Herfindahl, the two groups are excited to perform a piece in which music and lyrics can join together.

"It's always an epic experience when they join," Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra Conductor Joel Neves, who in addition to conducting will play trumpet for the combined performance, said. "There's just great music out there for orchestra and choir, and this one specifically fits our times perfectly.

"The orchestra always looks forward to joining with the choir," Neves continued. "It's an impressive sight of over 100 people onstage looking toward the same goal."

In the midst of the 150th anniversary of the United States Civil War, "Dona Nobis Pacem" incorporates the war poetry of Walt Whitman from 1862, portraying the violence and loss of war, along with the hope for peace, according to a press release. Williams and Whitman both served in the military - Whitman in the Civil War and Williams in World War I - and their compositions reflect that.

"There's a certain resonance between these two artists," Michigan Tech Concert Choir Conductor Jared Anderson, who will be conducting the Williams performance, said.

Before "Dona Nobis Pacem," both groups will perform a pair of pieces on their own. The choir will be performing Jonathan Dove's "Ring Out, Wild Bells!" as well as "Moments," a new piece by former KSO Conductor Milt Olsson. Saturday will be the world premiere of "Moments," a night Anderson and Olsson have been waiting on for a while.

"When I first moved into the area, Milt mentioned he had written a piece he would like to have premiered by the choir," Anderson said. "I thought it would be a great idea, and I'm looking forward to it."

The KSO turned to France for inspiration for its pieces Saturday night, as it will be performing Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" as well as the Bacchanal from Camille Saint-Saens' opera "Samson et Dalila."

"(The Bacchanal) is a real rousing piece with Gypsy-sounding chords and a Middle Eastern exotic flavor," Joel Neves said. "(The Debussy piece) is a beautiful example of French Impressionism in music. It's a real beautiful piece."

The concert is $15 for general admission, $7 for students and free for Michigan Tech students. To purchase tickets, call 487-2073, go online to or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech's Student Development Complex on 600 MacInnes Drive in Houghton. SDC Box Office hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. The Rozsa Box Office is closed during regular business hours and will only open two hours prior to showtimes.



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