Centenary College Camerata presents free fall concert

October 26, 2016

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College’s Camerata choral ensemble plans its fall concert on Saturday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Brown Chapel. This select group of chamber singers will present a program of great musical settings of Psalm texts, including Leonard Bernstein’s well-known 1965 work Chichester Psalms with harp, percussion, and organ. Admission is free and open to the public.

Chichester Psalms is a standard part of the choral repertoire, a piece with which music majors should be familiar. I think it is a standard because Bernstein was so successful in making it accessible to a wide audience and so dramatic,” says Dr. Cory Wikan, Camerata director. “Psalms are an important part of various religious traditions, adding further dimensions to the message of unity created by Bernstein’s narrative.”

Wikan identifies three dramatic elements as particularly striking in Bernstein’s work:

“First, Bernstein inserts Psalm 2, vs. 1-4 (“Why do the nations rage…”) into the middle of Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”), creating a clear contrast of emotion. Second, he augments this contrast with two distinct styles of music. One is a lilting lullaby accompanied by a soothing harp; the other a ferociously rhythmic march with the tenors and basses quite literally raging. Incidentally, the music that accompanies this section is music Bernstein originally wrote for his famous musical, West Side Story, but discarded. Third, he stipulates that only a boy soprano sing the solo assigned to the lullaby portion, clearly drawing a parallel with young King David, the often accepted author of the Psalms.”

The concert also includes Tarik O’Regan’s Dorchester Canticles and Ä’riks Ešenvalds’s Psalm 67. “Tarik O’Regan wrote Dorchester Canticles specifically as a companion to Chichester Psalms. Therefore, it too is scored for organ, harp, and percussion. It is an excellent closing to the concert with great rhythmic drive and vitality,” explains Wikan. “Ešenvalds’s Psalm 67 is a glorious work that provides a great atmospheric contrast to the two larger works. Psalm 67 begins and ends with “God be merciful unto us” chanted by a cantor. The very center of the concert strives to be focused, thoughtful, intense, and peaceful.”

Camerata, founded in 1983, is the select chamber choir from Centenary’s Hurley School of Music. The group is dedicated to quality artistic performances of choral repertoire from all historical periods to the highest musical standards. The composition of the group is primarily voice majors, though membership is open to all Centenary students by audition.

Camerata presented an Ensemble Debut Concert at Carnegie Hall in 2007 and was one of nine featured choirs at the National Collegiate Choral Organization Conference at Yale University in 2009. They have been invited to perform as a featured choir at the Southern Division Convention of the Music Educators National Conference, the Spivey Hall Educational Concert Series, and the Louisiana Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. Camerata performances are lauded for technical excellence combined with genuine understanding of musical expression.