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Nov. 19, 2021

Concert brings a celebratory return to choral singing at MSU

More than 200 singers and instrumentalists take the Cobb Great Hall Stage of Wharton Center

Choir and orchestra members of the Michigan State University College of Music will gather for a celebratory return of choral singing in "Songs of Comfort and Joy" — a concert of inspiring music at the Cobb Great Hall of Wharton Center at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4. The event is the second in the MSU Federal Credit Union Showcase Series that highlights musical excellence within the College of Music through an eclectic mix of concerts.

While uplifting choral performances during the winter holidays are a College tradition, this year’s concert of seasonal works holds particular significance because of the struggles and hardships of the pandemic. Few musical art forms have been more highly restricted during the pandemic than choral singing because of risks associated with respiratory particles or aerosols. The evening concert marks two years since MSU choirs of this scale have been able to perform live, in-person and on stage for the Greater Lansing community. Following the safety protocols set by the university, musicians will wear face coverings during the concert.

“The program for 'Songs of Comfort and Joy' was chosen, in part, as a musical response to all the challenges our society has faced since March 2020,” said Professor of Music and MSU Choral Director David Rayl. “We are grateful to have this opportunity to share the beauty of choral-orchestral music with our audience.”

Rayl will conduct 160 members of the MSU Choral Union, University Chorale and State Singers as they join the MSU Symphony Orchestra. Associate Professor of Voice Marc Embree will narrate the program of popular choruses and perennial choral-orchestral selections.

Mendelssohn’s “Thanks be to God” from "Elijah," Rayl said, can be seen as an expression of gratitude for the ability to return and perform in-person on stage. Additional pieces and their significance are Johannes Brahms’ German Requiem “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place,” as an offer of comfort to those who lost loved ones in the pandemic; and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Dona nobis pacem,” from "Mass in B Minor" as a fervent prayer for peace within the community, the nation and world-wide. The program also features “Cantique de Jean Racine” by Gabriel Fauré; “Ave verum corpus” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and selections from "Messiah" by George Frideric Handel, including the triumphant “Hallelujah Chorus.”

"Songs of Comfort and Joy" continues an annual tradition that has run with breaks since the late 1970s. More recently it has been part of the Showcase Series generously underwritten by the MSU Federal Credit Union. This year, the concert is generously sponsored by Provost Teresa K. Woodruff and Thomas V. O’Halloran, as well as a donor family with the hope that attendees enjoy the concert and reflect upon its message of peace and joy.

Reserved seating is $22 for adults, $20 for seniors (age 60 and older) and $12 for students, with a $3.50 Wharton facility fee. Tickets are available through Wharton Center box office only. Call 517-432-2000, (800) WHARTON, or visit Tickets can also be purchased at the door if available.

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