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Southern Chorale Presents Two Performances of Acclaimed “Kreek’s Notebook”

Mon, 03/11/2024 - 09:49am | By: Mike Lopinto

Southern Chorale

The Southern Chorale from The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), will present two performances of “Kreek’s Notebook,” an Estonian choral and orchestral masterpiece composed by Tõnu Kõrvits this month in New Orleans and Bay St. Louis.

Under the direction of Dr. Gregory Fuller and accompanied by members of the Louisiana Philharmonic, this enchanting performance offers two opportunities for audiences to enjoy: Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. at the Holy Name of Jesus Church on the campus of Loyola University in New Orleans; and at the Saturday, March 23, 2024, at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Gulf Church in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

As part of the USM Ambassador Series, admission to both events is free, and the public is invited.

“Kreek’s Notebook” is a captivating choral piece that pays homage to Estonian folk songs and hymns collected by Cyrillus Kreek in the early 20th century. Composer Tõnu Kõrvits has modernized and adapted these timeless melodies, making this work one of the most performed works of his career. Audiences will have the rare opportunity to meet the esteemed composer, Tõnu Kõrvits, who will be present at the event.

This performance commemorates the 10th anniversary of the U.S. premiere of Kreek’s Notebook by Southern Miss Choral Activities in 2014. Since that time, many performances have occurred in the US and Europe. The piece was just presented last month to eight sold-out concert halls in Belgium.

Kõrvits graduated in 1994 from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and, following postgraduate studies, he returned to the academy in 2001 to teach composition and orchestration. Against the background of established Estonian composers Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis, Kõrvits’ sound world stands out as highly poetic, and full of visionary fantasies.

His work embraces all the traditional genres from orchestral music, instrumental ensembles and works for solo instruments to choral music, solo songs and operas. In addition, he is highly regarded as an accomplished arranger of popular music and has composed soundtracks for several animation films.

The Southern Chorale, the premier choral ensemble at Southern Miss, has a long history of excellence. The group is comprised primarily of upper-division voice majors and graduate students studying conducting, vocal performance, and music education, but does include outstanding singers from other campus disciplines.

The group has appeared numerous times at ACDA conferences, including national conventions in Chicago and Los Angeles. The ensemble maintains an active tour schedule both nationally and internationally. Significant endeavors have included a residency in the Loire Valley of France, a featured performance in Carnegie Hall for Katrina relief and one for the partial premiere of “An American Requiem” by Edwin Penhorwood, and recording projects on Handel’s “Dixit Dominus,” the “Messe Pour Double Choeur,” and the “Sacred Music of Southern Miss composer emeritus, Luigi Zaninelli.”

The group completed a recording project that featured the music of Laurel, Mississippi native, James Quitman Mulholland. The Chorale performs the complete spectrum of significant choral literature for a cappella and accompanied chorus.

In addition to the performances, Southern Miss School of Music alumnus Alex Favazza, PhD, will present a lecture on Friday, March 22 at 11 a.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center, Room 105 about the piece.  Favazza completed his dissertation on Kreek’s Notebook at Florida State University. He will provide insight to the origins of the music, and music analysis of the score at this lecture presentation. He will also provide a brief introduction to the piece at both concerts.

Fuller expresses his excitement about the mystical and intoxicating vocabulary of this musical masterpiece.

“This performance offers a rare opportunity for audience members to immerse themselves in music of unparalleled quality, with the added thrill of the composer's presence,” he noted. “Our Lady of the Gulf Church is the perfect venue for this transcendent musical experience.”

Learn more about the Ambassador Series.