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Masterworks Chorale concert set for Nov. 16

November 3, 2014

The Indiana State University School of Music student ensemble series will present the Masterworks Chorale in concert 4 p.m. Nov. 16 in Tilson Auditorium.

The 55-member Masterworks Chorale will perform the following works: "Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened" by George Frideric Handel; "Magnificat" by Gerald Finzi; "Missa Festiva" by John Leavitt; and "Gloria" by Randol Alan Bass. Each of these works will be performed with varying combinations of strings, winds, brass, percussion, and keyboard, or keyboard only, and conducted by School of Music faculty member Mark Carlisle.

"Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened" was written by Handel for the coronation of George II of England and Queen Caroline, which took place on Oct. 11, 1727. The text, chosen by Handel, included verses 13-14 from Psalm 89. The work is divided into three parts: a cheerful opening movement in G major; a melancholy, slow second movement in E minor; and a return to a more buoyant G major for a concluding Alleluia movement. It is one of four anthems composed for British coronations, and all were among Handel's most popular and regularly played pieces during his lifetime.

Originating from the Latin word for "magnify," "Magnificat" is the name given to the words of Mary in Luke's Gospel. It is the canticle appointed to be sung at Vespers in the Roman Rite, and the first canticle sung at Evensong. At the request of Iva Dee Hiatt, music faculty member at Smith College in Massachusetts, who preferred a non-liturgical setting, Finzi composed his "Magnificat" in 1950. Originally requested for women's voices only, Finzi ultimately composed the work for mixed chorus, and the first performance at Smith College in December 1952 included a male chorus from nearby Amherst College. The musical setting is straightforward, strong and direct, often repeating words and even verses. The opening theme returns, refrain-like, three times throughout the work, meditatively the third time, and while Finzi did not include the Gloria text, he did include a relatively short, blissful Amen section to conclude the work.

"Missa Festiva," by American composer and choral conductor John Leavitt, began in 1987 with the commission of a festival piece for the International Choral Symposium in Kansas City, Missouri. The piece that resulted from that commission, "Sanctus" ("Festival Sanctus"), was followed shortly thereafter by two other movements of the Mass Ordinary, the "Kyrie" and "Agnus Dei."

The "Gloria" movement was finished in fall 1990, and the "Credo," the musical centerpiece that ties the work together, was completed in the spring 1991. At that time, the five separate movements were assembled as one large work, ultimately published as "Missa Festiva." The "Kyrie" and "Agnus Dei" are set in a lyrical, neo-romantic style with modal inflection, while the "Gloria" and "Sanctus" are set in a buoyantly rhythmic style with mixed meters and syncopation. The middle "Credo" movement uses ancient chant to distinguish the three persons of the Trinity. While not strictly a liturgical Mass setting, both altered and unaltered Mass texts are used to fit the musical settings and provide a vehicle for excellent choral singing.

Randol Alan Bass is an American composer and arranger, with a degree in choral music from the University of Texas at Austin, and in instrumental music from The University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music. He was the founder of the Austin Symphonic Band and has continued to serve as music director of this ensemble for more than 26 years.

"Gloria in excelsis Deo" (Glory to God in the highest) is a hymn known also as the Greater Doxology and the Angelic Hymn. It is often abbreviated to "Gloria in excelsis," or simply, "Gloria." This musical version for SATB chorus, keyboard, brass and percussion, incorporates the full, Latin text in a 7-minute setting of substantial rhythmic and harmonic diversity and challenge. It is a work composed in interweaving homophonic and polyphonic sections, with a few beautiful, contemplative passages surrounded by others, including the ending, that are dynamically full, energized, and highly extroverted.

Tilson Auditorium is located in Tirey Hall on the university campus. Tickets are available by calling the School of Music at 812-237-2771 or at the door. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for non-Indiana State students and free for Indiana State students (with a student I.D.) and children under the age of 10.


Contact: Mark Carlisle, School of Music, Indiana State University, at 812-237-2761, or