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Symphony ends season with chorale

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- Voices from the Albany Chorale and music programs at Albany State University, Darton College and Georgia Southwestern State University will complement the Albany Symphony Orchestra on Saturday evening as the symphony concludes its "The Pride of Our Community" series.

In each of its subscription performances this season, the symphony has highlighted another cultural or entertainment organization -- the Flint RiverQuarium in September, the Albany Museum of Art in October and the Weatherbee Planetarium in February.

On Saturday, the symphony will focus the community's attention on the talented voices of the chorale and those at Albany area colleges.

"We can provide this opportunity -- a unique opportunity -- for these college students to combine their voices with the symphony," ASO Music Director Claire Fox Hillard said Tuesday. "It's an educational opportunity that a college normally can't provide."

The program will focus on the Christian holy season leading up to Easter. Titled "Music for Lent," the program, which opens at 7:30 p.m. at the Albany Municipal Auditorium, will feature works by Russian composer Nikoli Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), Italian composer Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) and German great Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

The performance will open with Rimsky-Korsakov's "Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36," followed by Prelude and Scicliana, Scene and Easter Hymn, Intermezzo and Scene & Drinking Song from Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rustcana."

The season of Lent is the period preceding Easter, Christianity's most holy day, and is characterized with fasting, abstinence and penitence in commemoration of Christ fasting in the wilderness. Many Christians give up a favorite food or activity during the Lent season. The music selected for Saturday's program, however, isn't all somber.

Hillard said the Russian Easter overture, which incorporates ancient Russian chants, "is very upbeat," as is the Easter Hymn. "The Easter Hymn is a scene outside the church, with people singing outside the church and others inside, so it's a big, grandiose hymn from that opera. It's festive. It's big."

Hillard said he was happy that about 150 vocalists will be performing with the symphony. "You need the numbers," he said. "You don't need to be loud (to accompany the instrumentalists), but you do need the volume."

Following intermission, the symphony and chorus will perform six pieces from Beethoven's "Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85."

"It's basically the story of the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives," Hillard said.

Gethsemane, located between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem, is where Jesus and his disciples went following the Last Supper, and where Christ was betrayed.

Hillard said three special guests will perform during the Beethoven's music. The chorus will provide the voices of the soldiers and disciples, but Leroy Bynum, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Albany State University, will perform the part of Jesus;

Julie Meggison, chair of the Music Department at Georgia Southwestern State will be the angel, and Logan Rebstock of Florida State University will be Simon Peter.

Overall, Hillard said, he feels the series of programs showcasing other arts and entertainment aspects of Albany has been a success.

"We've found it to be rewarding," he said, "and the responses we've gotten from the organizations we've featured have been very thankful. I think it's helped build awareness for all the organizations in town."

Hillard said the theme will carry over into the 2011-12 subscription season that launches this fall.

"We've already made preliminary plans for next year," he said. "We're going to be showcasing more organizations as well."