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More Than 300 Singers Will Join Grand Rapids Symphony For A CHORAL CELEBRATION

More Than 300 Singers Will Join Grand Rapids Symphony For A CHORAL CELEBRATION

The great composers from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to Mozart, Mendelssohn and Mahler all wrote music for singers and symphony orchestra together. The unsung heroes of classical music today are the all-volunteer choruses who join orchestras to perform the great works of classical music.

More than 300 singers in the Grand Rapids Symphony's musical family are the stars of the show for "A Choral Celebration" on Sunday, March 15.

The adult Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the several ensembles of the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus perform along with the Grand Rapids Symphony at 3 p.m. in the Covenant Fine Arts Center at Calvin University in Grand Rapids.

Multicultural music from South Africa, multilingual music in English and Spanish and music by today's composers are part of the program.

Pearl Shangkuan, conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Sean and Leah Ivory, co-directors of the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus and Junior Youth Chorus; and Renee VandeWege, conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony Prelude Chorus, will collaborate perform along with Associate Conductor John Varineau and the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Highlights include Dan Forrest's Requiem for The Living, which also features soprano Jessica Coe and tenor Mark Shepherd and the 140-voice Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus under Shangkuan.

The Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus, numbering more than 100 high-school age singers, will sing Gwyneth Walker's 20th century choral classic, How Can I Keep from Singing?

Mandala, a small, select ensemble drawn from the Youth Chorus, will sing several numbers.

Cantamos! by James M. DesJardins, in English and Spanish, will feature more than 40 children of the Prelude Chorus for elementary age singers and more than 50 voices from the Junior Youth Chorus.

The combined choruses, joined by soprano Kathleen Veenstra Pool, tenor Aaron Polet, and the Grand Rapids Symphony under John Varineau will sing I Will Rise, composed by Sean Ivory and premiered at the Grand Rapids Symphony's landmark concert, LiveArts, in April 2015 in the Van Andel Arena

The Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, numbering some 140 singers, is in its 58th season as an affiliate of the Grand Rapids Symphony. Earlier this season, the adult chorus joined the orchestra for Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms in October followed by its traditional appearance at the Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops in December. The all-volunteer chorus joins the Grand Rapids Symphony for Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony No. 2 in May.

In April 2018, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus traveled to New York City to sing Heitor Villa-Lobos' Chôros No. 10, It Tears Your Heart with the orchestra in New York City's Carnegie Hall. Along with staples of the repertoire, the chorus regularly performs new and contemporary works such as Stephen Paulus' cantata To Be Certain of the Dawn, the world premiere of Avner Dorman's Dialogues of Love: A Choral Symphony, Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony, and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

Pearl Shangkuan, now in her 16th season as chorus director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, is a much sought-after guest conductor and clinician across the United States as well as abroad. Shangkuan has conducted in New York City's Carnegie Hall and for many prestigious All State Choral Festivals in the United States. Director of Choral Activities and professor of music at Calvin University, Shangkuan's choirs have performed at the national, division, and state conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and have toured Asia, Europe, South America, and South Africa. She has lectured at many international conferences and served as a judge in several international choral competitions in Europe and Asia.

The Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus is in its 12th season as a member of the orchestra's musical family. Co-founded and co-directed by Sean and Leah Ivory, members of the Youth Chorus and Junior Chorus receive extensive choral training, as well as opportunities to join the Grand Rapids Symphony for performances of major works from the choral and symphonic traditions. Last season, the Youth Chorus's select ensemble, Mandala, and the Junior Chorus joined the orchestra for Mahler's Symphony No. 3. This season, the Youth Chorus returned to DeVos Performance for the Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops in December.

The Youth Chorus made its debut with the Grand Rapids Symphony in a performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in March 2008. The Youth Chorus participated in the Grand Rapids Symphony's landmark concert, LiveArts! in April 2015 in the Van Andel Arena where it gave the premiere of Sean Ivory's I Will Rise. The Youth Chorus has traveled to the Czech Republic, Trinidad and Iceland for performances and educational tours. In March 2017, the Junior Youth Chorus was one of several choruses from across the country that premiered Dan Forrest's Jubilate Deo in New York City's Carnegie Hall.

Sean Ivory has been the vocal music instructor at Forest Hills Central High School since 1992. He has held past positions at St. Cecilia Music Center, the North American Choral Company, and at Calvin University, where he is director of the Calvin University Oratorio Society and of the Calvin University Alumni Choir.

Leah Ivory has accompanied choirs for St. Cecilia Music Center, for the North American Choral Company, and at Calvin University, her alma mater. She currently serves as the accompanist for choirs at Grand Rapids Christian High School. A drummer in the West African tradition, certified through the Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy, she works with differently abled children and adults to improve communication and motors skills through drumming.

Tickets

Tickets for A Choral Celebration are $20 adults, $5 students, and are available at the Grand Rapids Symphony box office, weekdays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across the street from Calder Plaza). Call (616) 454-9451 x 4 to order by phone. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum).

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place ticket office, weekdays 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours before the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.


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