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Singing peacefully in celebration of 100 years

5/2/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

The choirs and orchestra at Fort Hays State University are gearing up to present the final concert of the season, the Masterworks Concert.

The Concert Choir, Fort Hays Singers and Smoky Hill Chorale will perform, in addition to the orchestra. The choirs are comprised of students, faculty members and community members.

In honor of the 100th year of the music department, the department decided to present the final concert of the year in a different way. Typically, the choirs and orchestra perform together. But this year, the choirs are singing acapella while the orchestra follows.

"To celebrate our 100th year, we've been doing great works by American composers or great American songs all year," said Terry Crull, director of choral activities.

The choir is performing "The Peaceable Kingdom" by Randall Thompson.

"Randall Thomas is one of the greatest, most often performed American choral composers," Crull said. "The orchestra director wanted to do something just orchestra. So looking for a work that was just choir, not accompanied by the orchestra, was difficult."

It was composed in 1936 and depicts scenes from the Biblical book Isaiah.

"It's very romantic," said senior Greg Jones, concert choir president. "The way the music is written, you don't need the words to understand what the music is trying to convey. The way he paints the text and the way he moves the music, you don't know the story, but you know the emotions."

As the piece will be unaccompanied, human voices are meant to be the focus.

"I'm extremely passionate about singing because we, as an ensemble, take words and notes on a page and turn them into something that can be a completely unique experience to the listener," Jones said. "It's making art without needing any kind of visual stimulation. It's a pretty big deal to make sound and make people feel."

"Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky will be performed by the orchestra.

"It was originally written for a piano," said senior Michael Ritzel, who has been in the orchestra and choir for four years. "It's difficult because we're not a piano. We can't just press a key and a note comes out. It's a really difficult work, and it's coming together very well."

The Masterworks Concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. Adult tickets are $6, and tickets for seniors and students 12 and older are $4. The concert is free for children 11 and younger. FHSU students are admitted free with a valid student ID.

"It's a great concert," Ritzel said. "These are really great works, and it's not something everyone gets to hear on a daily basis. I feel sorry for those who aren't able to make it."