Once every year the School of Music presents a combined concert featuring the University Orchestra, Chamber Choir and University Choir. This Wednesday, Professor Jerry Blackstone will conduct this dynamic and inspiring program at Hill Auditorium. This is Professor Blackstone”s 13th year at the University and he is the co-director of choirs at the School of Music. The two choirs performing have members ranging from underclassmen to masters candidates. The Chamber Choir consists of 55 members while the University Choir has 85.
These combined groups will perform a symphony composed by composition professor Erik Santos during the first half of the concert. The work titled, ” in the Mines of Desire,” chronicles the life of the mining town of Butte, Montana. This twenty-five minute piece presents a “colorful and evocative” sensory experience, according to Professor Blackstone. The heavy use of percussion featured throughout the song is meant to represent the hard labored life of the miners working in the dark treacherous mines.
The symphony describes the history of Butte from its humble beginnings as a small mining town to an economic superpower. Santos compares this town to a young girl with an undiscovered talent. He says that Butte was discovered and “a superstar was born who electrified the world. But alas, natural talent is not a bottomless incorruptible well, and what happens when the voice is gone? Butte did lose its voice and returned to mediocrity. All of this emotion is embodied in the piece.”
The first movement, “Beauty,” sets up the town”s rough attractiveness. Since it is not a beautiful town, the magnetism comes from the inside search for wealth and glory. As the search for their fortune takes the miners underground, the second movement begins. “Rumble” is the most exhilarating portion of the piece that symbolizes the beginning of the colonization and mining of the town.
Moving into the third movement, “Interlude (Whispers in the Dark),” the choir softly whispers words from the previous movements at varying speeds. The University Orchestra will skillfully reproduce blasting sounds with their instruments to accompany the choir. This segment brings together the earth with the inhabitants of Butte into a clash of wills. “Eruption (Bacchanal)” follows and presents an aural picture of night life of Butte after the miners finished their work. This movement is the most brutal and vicious within the symphony. To conclude the work, Santos provides a five-minute finale titled, “Arrival.” He says it is meant to “convey a sense of resignation and acceptance” of the past.
After intermission the groups will perform “Dona Nobis Pacem,” by R. Vaughan Williams. The name literally means, “give us peace.” Blackstone explains that this “was written as a warning and plea for peace during 1936.” The piece contains numerous Walt Whitman poems and scripture from the Bible. It is also meant to give uplifting hope to a war torn country. The two soloists, soprano Loren Allardyce and baritone Tyler Oliphant will provide inspiring and moving performances.