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Southern Oregon University

SOU Chamber Choir and Concert Choir guest harpist Laura ZaerrThe Southern Oregon University Department of Performing Arts presents “A Ceremony of Carols,” featuring the Chamber Choir and the Concert Choir on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3:00 p.m. in the SOU Music Recital Hall. The concert features the beautiful work of Benjamin Britten, voiced for women and accompanied by harpist Laura Zaerr. Both choirs perform festive holiday music from the Renaissance through modern-day composers, including excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah.”

The Chamber Choir will sing a varied program of festive holiday music, from the Renaissance through newly commissioned works. Featured works include James MacMillan’s virtuosic “And lo the angel of the Lord” for triple choir; Eric Whitacre’s haunting “Lux Aurumque”; one of the most famous compositions of the Renaissance, Josquin de Pres’ “Ave Maria”; Dutch carols by Jetse Bremer, a tenor in the Netherlands Chamber Choir, whose fresh rhythms and harmonies make him one of the most appealing composers of his generation; and French and English carols by John Rutter, probably the most successful modern composer of holiday music.

The women of the Concert Choir will perform “A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28,” by Benjamin Britten. The work was composed in 1942, while Britten was at sea traveling from the U.S. to Britain. Written for the Christmas season, it is scored for three-part treble chorus, solo voices, and harp. The texts are in Middle English and taken from “The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems,” by Gerald Bullett. The piece will be accompanied by Laura Zaerr on the harp.

Zaerr teaches both pedal harp and folk harp at the University of Oregon, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in music performance and composition. She was a three-time recipient of the Ruth Lorraine Close Award for musical studies. She holds a master’s degree in harp performance from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Eileen Malone.

The men of the Concert Choir will be featured in several pieces to celebrate the season, including “In Dulci Jubilo,” with tenor soloist Conor Quinn, and new compositions by contemporary American composers, some that are rhythmically driving and complex, and others that are filled with warmth and lyricism. One of the piece will feature SOU percussion students in the accompaniment.

As a mixed ensemble, the Concert Choir will sing a contemporary setting of “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” by Swedish classical composer J. Sandström. This dissonant rendering of the Praetorius carol was written for an eight-voice, a cappella double choir. The choir will close their portion with a new setting of an old favorite, “The First Noel,” arranged by Dan Forrest. Laurie Anne Hunter will accompany the Concert Choir.

The Chamber Choir is under the direction of Dr. Paul French, Director of Choral/Vocal Studies at Southern Oregon University and Artistic Director/Conductor of the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers. The Concert Choir is under the direction of Dr. Fredna Grimland and accompanied by Laurie Ann Hunter. Fredna Grimland, Ph. D. is Director of Music Education, Teacher of Applied Voice, and she is the past Director of the Honors Program at SOU.

Tickets are $5 for general admission. Admission for full-time students at any educational institution is free. The Performing Arts Box Office is located in the Theatre Arts Building lobby. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours prior to each performance. Tickets can be purchased with a credit card over the phone by calling 541-552-6348, online at sou.edu/performingarts or at the door.