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Choirs, Symphony present spring Oratorio

April 26, 2011 12:00AM

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Gigi Mitchell-Velasco

The PSU Choirs, guest choristers from surrounding communities, and the Southeast Kansas Symphony will come together for a longstanding tradition at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, with the performance of the annual Oratorio at Pittsburg's First United Methodist Church. This concert also serves as the final concert in the 2010-2011 Southeast Kansas Symphony season.

The Oratorio will feature the music of Sir Edward Elgar, who built his reputation as one of the greatest English composers on pieces such as those included in Sunday's program.

The concert will open with Elgar's "Coronation March," Op. 65. A grand piece written for the coronation of King George V, the march celebrates its centennial in May. Next on the program will be one of Elgar's most beloved works, the Nimrod movement from his Enigma Variations, Op. 36. It was this work that caused the musical community to first regard Elgar as a major composer. The two orchestral works will be conducted by Symphony artistic director Selim Giray and PSU graduate assistant Gregory Campbell, respectively.

The second half of the program will feature one of Elgar's mature masterworks for chorus and orchestra, "The Music Makers," Op. 69, under the direction of Susan Marchant. A setting of Arthur O'Shaughnessy's famous ode ("We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams..."), this is a deeply rich and personal work that deals with the role of the creative artist in the history of humankind. Choral and orchestral forces are joined by a female soloist who is entrusted with some of the most beautiful and poignant expressions to be found in the entire text.

The guest soloist for this special piece will be American mezzo-soprano Gigi Mitchell-Velasco. Mitchell-Velasco is an international artist who is at home on both opera and concert stages around the world. She has performed with the Boston Symphony, the Orchêstre symphonic de Québec, the Opera Orchestra of New York, the Dallas Symphony and numerous others.

A native of Dallas, Texas, Mitchell-Velasco began her musical career as a flutist and was principal flutist with the Boston Opera Company for eight years. Also a talented vocalist, Mitchell-Velasco began to focus her energy on her vocal talents in the early 1990s. In 1997 she won the American Wagner Association Award in the Liederkranz Competition for Wagnerian Voice. Mitchell-Velasco maintains an active concert schedule that takes her to stages all across the U.S. and internationally.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students 13-18. PSU students with and ID and children 12 and under are admitted free.

For more information, call 620-235-4466 or the Ticket Office at 620-235-4796.

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