ABERDEEN, S.D. – Community members are playing a large role in an upcoming orchestra and choir concert at Northern State University.
The concert features more than 200 musicians – including about 65 people from the Aberdeen area. That includes about a dozen local members of the Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony
who are neither students nor faculty/staff at NSU; six musicians from the Sioux Falls and Huron area who play regularly with the local symphony; and almost 50 members of a community chorus recruited by NSU’s Dr. Timothy Woods
AUCS member Emily Engelhart said she was surprised by the number of people involved in the choir.
“The one thing that is amazing about Aberdeen is that so many people here are willing to sacrifice their own time in order to help in the one of the greatest causes I know: to make beautiful music,” said Engelhart, of Westport.
Well over 23 million adults sing regularly in choral organizations throughout the United States, according to a recent study by Cindy Bell, published in “International Journal of Choral Singing.”
Bell also found out that there are approximately 250,000 different choruses nationwide, which means that there are more public performances in choral singing than in any other art form.
‘Carmina Burana’ popular locally, worldwide
Locally, for some community members, the chance to perform “Carmina Burana” was the likely attraction. Carl Orff’s massive cantata, composed in 1936, is considered one of the greatest choral masterpieces of the 20th century – and is also one of the most widely performed.
“Carmina Burana,” Orff’s most well-known work, was based specifically on 13th-century poetry found in a manuscript called the “Codex latinus monacensis” found in a famous German monastery known as Benediktbeuern. This poetry was written by the Goliards, a group of clergy who wrote “bibulous, satirical Latin poetry in the 12th and 13th centuries.”
The 24 medieval poems (O Fortuna is used twice: one and 25) used for “Carmina Burana” were written in Latin and an early form of German. These poems are often racy, but without been obscene. While maintaining some “modern” techniques, Orff was able to capture the spirit of the medieval period with infectious rhythms and simple harmonies.
Noelle Stubbe of Aberdeen is looking forward to performing the work.
“’Carmina Burana’ is one of my favorite pieces,” she said. “My sophomore year of high school, we performed an excerpt from the piece, and I’m excited to be able to play the whole piece on the 27th.”
From symphony member to student
This is Stubbe’s first year performing with the AUCS. Another reason she wanted to get involved is because she plans to attend Northern in the fall.
“I knew that participating in the AUCS would give me a good perspective on what to expect next year,” she said. “It also has given me the chance to meet new friends.”
The best part of being involved has been getting to know many students, as well as professors she will have in the future.
“Everyone is super friendly and willing to help if I need anything,” Stubbe said.
The daughter of Larry and Geraldine Stubbe, she will graduate from Aberdeen Central High School in May. Stubbe, who will major in music education
, said she chose Northern because of the excellent music program.
“I’ve heard many great things, and I am excited to be attending in the fall,” she said.
Aberdeen full of musical opportunities
Engelhart has been part of AUCS since the beginning of spring semester. She said the best part of being involved with the current concert has been the experience of accompanying all of the choir members, as well as listening to all the amazing sounds of “Carmina Burana.” The best part of her involvement overall, she said, was getting the chance to perform in NSU's recent production of Les Misérables.
“I will never forget all the memories made in the musicians' pit; all the good hours spent watching and listening to the spectacular actors on stage; and of course, getting the chance to play the gorgeous renditions of Les Misérables,” she said.
Engelhart is originally from central California, where she started her training as a violinist and began her journey as a music entertainer. Now, in addition to working as a secretary for the farming business of her husband, Zach, she is part of the musical group Iridescence. She and a friend, Melissa Kienow, perform violin, piano and vocal duets at weddings and other special events.
Engelhart said since moving to the area in summer 2012, she has found Aberdeen to be full of opportunities for musicians of all ages.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of passion for music that is here,” she said. “I am so thrilled and proud to be a part of this community's musical events!”
Tickets for “Medieval Journeys” are $13 for adults and $11 for seniors. Students are admitted free. The box office opens at 5:45 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased in advance at Engel Music in downtown Aberdeen. Proceeds from ticket sales for this concert support the music scholarship fund. For more information, visit www.aberdeensymphony.org
or call 605-626-2497.
Photo: Members of the Northern State University Concert Choir and community chorus rehearse for the upcoming concert with the Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony.