The Joan Chambers Concert Series will close the fall semester with a holiday-themed concert featuring Pittsburgh-based Kassia Ensemble and the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale. Cynthia Ortiz, soprano, Daphne Alderson, contralto, Skip Napier, baritone, and Matt Klumpp, organ, will also perform with the two groups.
The program, entitled “First Noël: Music of Bach, Saint-Saëns, Handel,” will be presented in two 7:30 p.m. performances on November 21 and November 22. The November 21 performance will be held at the Delmont Presbyterian Church (http://dpc1849.org/) in Delmont, and the November 22 performance will be held at the First United Methodist Church (http://greensburgfirst.org/) in Greensburg. A preview performance featuring piano-accompaniment only will be held November 20 at 11:30 a.m. in the Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center at Pitt-Greensburg. All three performances are open to the public at no charge.
This performance has been funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts through the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance as part of the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) grant program.
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The program will feature Saint- Saëns Christmas Oratorio, along with a selection of the finest Baroque and contemporary compositions, including Bach’s Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, Caroline Shaw’s For Claire and Philip, Jessica Meyer’s but not until, Andrea Clearfield’s Three Songs (after poems by Neurda), Cecile Chaminade’s Scarf Dance, Schulz-Widmar’s Midnight Clear, and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Audience members arriving early will be treated to a pre-concert organ performance by Matt Klumpp, official accompanist for the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale.
This concert holds special meaning for director Chris Bartley: "I am delighted to share this concert, a performance that has roots going back more than 25 years. The Bach, Saint-Saëns, and Handel selections framed the 65th Annual Candlelight Concerts of the Wesleyan University Concert Choir and Orchestra. It was the university’s holiday show, and I was a senior, assistant conductor to the choir under director Melvin Strauss. I was privileged and proud to help make that concert happen, and it is one of the most formative musical experiences that influenced me into this career of university music teaching and performance."
“I feel that our performance this year will be a true experience for the audience,” said Miranda Smith, president of the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale. “Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus is always a crowd favorite. We performed parts of the Messiah my freshman year, and it was well-received by the audience. I think the Chorale does a great job in presenting this music in the way that Handel intended for it to be.”
Smith, who is from North Versailles, PA, continued: “I think the music will connect deeply with the audience’s emotions. The Bach piece is like a celebratory dance that will surely have people dancing in their seats. By the end of the concert with Handel’s Hallelujah, some of our audience members may find themselves with tears in their eyes. We deliver the pieces in a way that will send goosebumps up the audience’s arms.”
The Kassia Ensemble, featuring a traditional string quartet, with the addition of a double bass, a clarinet, and a harp, includes Lydia Miller Choorapuzha and Ashley Freeburn (violin), Ashley Freeburn (violin), Si Yu (viola), Katya Janpoladyan (cello), Amanda Rice-Johnston (bass), and Nuiko Wadden (harp). Kassia strives for more inclusive gender and racial representation in the world of chamber music, and promote women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in the arts, collaborating with artists of all genres and performing music by composers of all genders and ethnicities.
“I am extremely excited to be performing with the Kassia Ensemble,” said Smith, a communication major with minors in music and creative and professional writing. “This is my fourth year in Chorale, and I have been given all of these amazing opportunities and experiences. In my first year, we performed a majority of Handel’s Messiah. In my second year, we went on tour in New Jersey and New York. In my third year, we performed Carmina Burana with the Westmoreland Symphony at The Palace Theatre. And now we’re given the opportunity to perform next to the Kassia Ensemble. It feels surreal, to say the least. I never thought I would have been given all of these amazing opportunities to perform and do what I love. I am looking forward to seeing how we will work with the Kassia Ensemble, and I think this concert will be one for the record books.”
The 35-voice Pitt-Greensburg Chorale is one of two choral ensembles at Pitt-Greensburg. Both the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale and the Pitt-Greensburg Chamber Singers are under the direction of Bartley, the campus music director and instructor of music. Pitt-Greensburg offers a visual and performing arts major as well as a music minor. Students are able to participate and hone their vocal and piano skills through the campus’ voice and piano study that is taught by Cynthia Ortiz, soprano, and Matt Klumpp, piano.
“Chorale sings and performs in a way that you don’t just listen, you experience,” added Smith. “We leave our heart and soul out on that stage. All of the pieces we have selected for this season are interesting and fun to perform. I am proud of what we have done for this show, and I can’t wait to share it with the Greensburg community.”
The Music Program at Pitt-Greensburg will continue into December with the following performances at the Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center (University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, 150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601):
- Monday, 12/2, 7:00 pm - Tyler Humphries-Randolph, senior capstone presentation. Come learn to sing in Chinese!
- Tuesday, 12/3, 7:30 pm - Voice & Piano Recital: Students of Cynthia Ortiz & Matt Klumpp.
- Thursday, 12/5, 7:00 pm - Distinct Voices a cappella performance.
- Friday, 12/6, 7:30 pm - Friday Evening Music Club: Sounds of the Season.
The Joan Chambers Concert Series was established in memory of Joan Chambers, late wife of President Emeritus George F. Chambers. For many years, she was an ardent supporter and representative of Pitt-Greensburg in the community. While her interests were wide-spread, she especially enjoyed participating in book-discussion groups, attending cultural events, and hosting themed luncheons at her home. Another one of her passions, the Children's Literature Collection in Millstein Library, was developed and named in her honor.