DePauw Orchestra, Choirs conclude season with joint concert Sunday

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The DePauw University School of Music's concert season culminates this Sunday in a performance of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Corigliano's "Fern Hill for chorus and orchestra, inspired by the poetry of Welsh author Dylan Thomas.

The DePauw School of Music's annual year-end choir and orchestra concert will feature faculty member and mezzo-soprano Caroline Smith as soloist on John Corigliano's "Fern Hill" on Sunday, May 6 at 3 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium in the school's final performance of the 2017-18 season. Courtesy photo

Director of choirs Kristina Boerger will conduct the piece, which features DePauw music professor and mezzo-soprano Caroline Smith as soloist.

The joint concert will be presented May 6 at 3 p.m. in the Green Center's Kresge Auditorium.

Also on the program will be Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 (the "Unfinished" Symphony), African American composer George Walker's "Lyric for Strings," and Danish composer Carl Nielsen's "Prelude to Act II" from his opera Saul and David, conducted by the orchestra's music director Orcenith Smith.

Titling the concert, "Unfinished Business: Prelude to Act II," the seniors reflect on work begun here and life ahead. As Smith explains, "their first act now finished, their second act begins."

"Lyric for Strings," it is important to note, was not originally on the concert planned for Sunday. It was added after a series of on-campus events earlier this spring targeting minority students.

"Students in the DePauw Orchestra wanted to respond to the hurt that these events caused," Professor Smith offered. "With the power of personal speech allowed in our democracy, intellectual development cultivated in our university by caring faculty and the need to ever evolve the curriculum, there is much to be done by all constituents to support the search for equality.

"The music that we will share by Walker was originally titled 'Lament' and for us, it acknowledges the hurt in our community, provides moments of important reflection, and additionally, hopes for solace, healing and growth."

Other music on Sunday's concert is about life moving forward, sending senior students out into the world, hopefully, somewhat ready for life's important conversations. "The Prelude to Act II "of Neilsen's opera "Saul and David" is an oration of the Biblical story from the book of Samuel, which ends as David is proclaimed King of Israel. As the story is unfolding at the start of Act II, David has accepted King Saul's challenge and is soon to fight Goliath in an effort to save their people.

Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony is unique in the repertoire because a symphony's normal form would suggest four movements, however, this work only has two.

"Some historians believe that Schubert's gift for melodic writing moved the symphony past its normal motivic construct to a place of lyrical emotion," Smith noted. "It could be that the two movements written felt complete to Schubert, and he couldn't get past that to write more. Add to the fact that Schubert began writing the work after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, the dire nature of the first movement sets an ominous stage. The second movement seems to be a melancholy resignation to his fate, with the occasional 'soldiering on' moments, but with final restful aspirations and release."

General admission to the joint choir and orchestra concert is $5. Tickets for seniors, youth and students are free.

Tickets can be obtained online at, or purchased in person at the Green Center box office from noon to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and 90 minutes prior to each ticketed performance.

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