St. Olaf Choir and Conductor Anton Armstrong Announce 2013 West Coast Winter Tour

St. Olaf Choir and Conductor Anton Armstrong Announce 2013 West Coast Winter Tour

For the St. Olaf Choir and Conductor Anton Armstrong, national tours are a long-standing winter tradition, and early 2013 they will present 11 concerts on the West Coast starting at Seattle's Benaroya Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 30, followed by three concerts in Oregon, five in California and two in Arizona ... concluding in Tucson on Monday, Feb. 11. The tour also includes performances closer to home: Sioux Falls, S.D., Saturday, Jan. 26; Mason City, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 27; and Stillwater, Minn., Saturday, Feb. 16.

The St. Olaf Choir and Armstrong present a concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle set for 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 30. Tickets range in price from $42 to $16 and can be purchase online through Seattle Symphony website, or in person at the Benaroya Hall Ticket Office.

Founded 101 years ago at St. Olaf College by F. Melius Christiansen, the St. Olaf Choir is internationally recognized as a creative force behind America's a cappella choral tradition, and it has set a high standard for choral music performance. The ensemble's 2013 West Coast Tour features an eclectic program of sacred and secular masterpieces past and present, as well as dynamic music with a broad global perspective. Violinist Charles Gray, St. Olaf College Professor of Music - Violin and Viola, will travel with the St. Olaf Choir on this tour, performing in several works for chorus, violin and piano.

During the past century the St. Olaf Choir has been hailed for its artistry and beauty of sound. "As we embark on these next 100 years," Armstrong says, "we are striving to present music that is relevant for the day. While we celebrate and uphold the finest of the Western choral canon, we also need to be a voice representing contemporary music that speaks to today's human condition. For this West Coast Tour we will present music that brings a message of hope and faith that stirs our audiences to action."

The past three years the St. Olaf Choir's centennial celebration has featured new choral commissions. Among the new compositions the St. Olaf Choir and Armstrong are presenting on this tour is The World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt's Evening Prayer by Abbie Betinis, a young American composer who studied composition at St. Olaf College.

"This musical setting of Eleanor Roosevelt's nightly prayer is very stunning," Armstrong says. "It features exciting counterpoint, rhythms, harmonic conflicts, and a melodic sense that is fitting for the text. It concludes with a canon built around the final words of Roosevelt's prayer: 'show us a vision of the world made new.' Abbie is one of exciting new voices in choral composition, and she has a distinctive and ever evolving style."

The 2013 West Coast Tour's program features:

• Motets by J.S. Bach and the Baroque Mexican composer Juan de Lienas, as well as a double choir
work by the late Renaissance German composer Hans Leo Hassler.
• A 2010 work by San Francisco-based composer David Conte, The Homecoming (In memoriam
Martin Luther King, Jr.).
• A new arrangement of a Norwegian melody In the Shepherd's Keeping by Minneapolis composer Charles Forsberg.
• Way Over in Beulah Lan' - a setting of slave songs by the African American composer Stacey Gibbs.
• 2012 St. Olaf College graduate Stanford Scriven's Paume, Doux Lit Froissé, a work commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival in honor of the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy. Armstrong founded the Stangeland academy in 1998, and Scriven was a member during his years in high school. Scriven's work was premiered this past summer in Eugene during the Oregon Bach Festival's 2012 season.

• Works by Ralph Vaughn Williams (Serenade to Music), F. Melius Christiansen (O Day Full of Grace); Moses Hogan (This Little Light of Mine), Greg Jasperse (Abide with Me), and the Taiwanese composer Yu-Shan Tsai (Fa Shu Ha).

Also this year the St. Olaf Choir and Armstrong will embark on their Centennial Tour of Norway in June. When conductor F. Melius Christiansen traveled through Norway with his new St. Olaf Choir in 1913, the concert tour was heralded for its artistic, religious and patriotic significance. He was a Norwegian from Larvik building an impressive music department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and most of his 50 singers were of Norwegian descent. The June 2013 tour to Norway will be the St. Olaf Choir's seventh trip to Norway. Today its singers come from more diverse cultural backgrounds, its conductor Anton Armstrong is African American and its repertory reflects a broader worldview.

For more information visit: stolafchoir.com