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Released April 27, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- The University of Southern Mississippi's premier touring choir, the Southern Chorale, will join the university's Concert Choir, the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Civic Chorale, and the Hattiesburg Choral Union to present an evening of exciting and high-powered chorale literature at 7:30 p.m. May 7 at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg.

The concert will feature Norman Dello Joio's "To Saint Cecilia" and John Rutter's "Gloria," both of which utilize a brass ensemble. Gregory Fuller, director of choral activities at Southern Miss, and Joanne Edwards, conductor of the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Civic Chorale, will conduct the joined choirs.

"It is a wonderful occasion for us to join the forces of several choral ensembles from both Southern Miss campuses," Edwards said. "There is a clearly a desire to have more vocal opportunities from Southern Miss available in both areas."

The concert will open with the Gulf Coast Civic Chorale performing Johannes Brahms' "The May Night," an arrangement of "Give Me Jesus" by Larry Fleming, and Joseph Martin's "The Awakening."

The second segment of the program features the first piece by the Southern Chorale and Concert Choir with a brass ensemble in their performance of Dello Joio's "To Saint Cecilia."

"The text of 'To Saint Cecilia' is taken from an ode written by John Dryden in 1687 called 'A Song for St. Cecilia's Day,'" Fuller said. "He is known simply as the greatest writer of the Reformation, and he eloquently combined cunning metaphor and symmetry into a lyric so musical it seems to need no setting."

Dello Joio found Dryden's text attractive. With references to the "sacred organ" and "the trumpets' loud clangor," the text lends itself to the grand instrumental sounds of organ and brass.

"Successfully combining the elements of 19th- and 20th-century compositional techniques, Dello Joio created a work for choir and brass that is both substantial and accessible," Fuller said.

Following the Dello Joio piece, the Southern Chorale will perform two sets of pieces, the first being new settings by Howard Helvey written for the Madison (Wisconsin) Chamber Choir. The group will then perform two pieces from Leonard Bernstein's "Candide."

The Southern Miss Gulf Coast Civic Chorus and the Hattiesburg Choral Union will close this unique concert with John Rutter's "Gloria." This combined choir will feature more than 140 singers.

Born in 1945, Rutter has become one of today's most popular composers in the United States and Europe. His compositions range from choral to instrumental, modern to chant-like. Many scholars credit him with successfully composing in both the popular and high-art genres.

"Rutter's 'Gloria' is scored for chorus, brass, percussion, and organ," Fuller explained. "The text comes from a part of the Latin Mass known as the 'Ordinary.' Although the text of this piece is sacred, Rutter himself states that his 'Gloria' is not a sacred work--it is a concert piece to be performed in any venue."

A member of the conducting faculty in the School of Music at Southern Miss, Fuller teaches and advises undergraduate and graduate students. He has conducted significant performances throughout his career, including appearances at both national MENC (the National Association for Music Education) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) conventions.

Recently, he presented an all-American a cappella program at the annual meeting of the Salisbury Plain Church Musicians and Organists at Salisbury Cathedral in England. Fuller is an alumnus of Oklahoma Baptist University and completed his graduate study at the University of Missouri.

Edwards serves as chair for community choirs in the southern division of ACDA and is a past president of both the Mississippi Music Educators and the Mississippi chapter of ACDA. Edwards earned both her bachelor and master of music education from Southern Miss.

The concert will be presented first at the First Baptist Church in Gulfport at 7 p.m. May 6. Both concerts are free of charge. For more information, contact the Southern Miss Choral Activities office at (601) 266-4092.


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May 5, 2004 1:45 PM