Hodgson students to perform North American premiere of new work

photo of vocal ensemble on stage

oratorio teaser.jpgThe Hodgson Wind Ensemble and the Hodgson Singers in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music will perform the North American premiere of a new work from Australian composer Catherine Likhuta when the Thursday Scholarship Series returns to Hodgson Concert Hall Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. "Scraps from a Madman's Diary" brings together a rare pairing of major ensembles for the performances of Likhuta's work, a 35-minute oratorio:

"The piece is unusual in its demands on the choir in that it calls on the choir to be a staged, acting character/characters for the entire duration," said Dan Bara, director of the Hodgson Singers.

Oratorios in the traditional sense are dramatic narratives with, typically, a biblical theme—another area where Likhuta breaks from tradition, as her narrative is a secular one—and in that traditional style, the choir is stationary, playing the role of an angry mob, angel chorus, chorus of the faithful or doubtful, etc.

"In this case, we collectively play the role of a man going insane, as recorded in his diary," said Bara. "So aside from the challenge of the music for the choir—due to rhythm, dissonance, chromatic and disjunct voice leading and independence of material from the instruments—the additional element of memorization, acting and staging add to the feat of performing the work."

The wind ensemble players also have adjustments to make in this atypical work.

"It opens up the students' ears to new timbres," said Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor of the Hodgson Wind Ensemble. "For wind players to collaborate with singers challenges us to listen on another level and adjust our sensitivity."

Bara and Johnston Turner, two of the most extraordinary faculty members on campus, can take on ambitious concert challenges like this because of the outstanding students they attract and train. Kudos all around on this unique pairing and we look forward to a great night of music. Tickets here.