Choir Performs with the Cleveland Orchestra
The Oberlin College Choir performed Bach's Cantata No. 56, Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, with the Cleveland Orchestra and bass-baritone soloist Thomas Quasthoff at a March concert in Cleveland's Severance Hall.

Plain Dealer music critic Donald Rosenberg admired the program, calling it "graceful and dignified as led by (Franz) Welser-Möst, who gave the small ensemble ample space to clarify Bach's writing." Rosenberg also commended the choir for its "stylishly light-toned contribution in the chorale that ends the work." The program included Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14, op. 135 and György Kurtág's Grabsten für Stephan, op. 15c.

Welser-Möst, who will assume leadership of the Cleveland Orchestra in the 2002-03 season, has served as the music director for the Zurich Opera since 1995. Quasthoff's credentials include a Grammy nomination in the Best Classical Vocal Performance category for his recording of Brahms and Liszt lieder.

The Oberlin College Choir, a select ensemble of College and Conservatory students, has a history of performing with the Cleveland Orchestra. Each chance to do so, says Michael Slon, visiting instructor of choral conducting, "presents a tremendous experience for Oberlin's young musicians. The Cleveland Orchestra is perhaps the best in the country. To hear an ensemble of this caliber, let alone perform with it, is one of the greatest opportunities possible for these students."

Slon prepared the choir for its Cleveland performances. He believes the experience was a formative one for choir members and strengthened their sense of ensemble. "The particular stylistic demands of singing Bach might have been new for some of these singers, but I thought they were perfectly up to it," he says.

In fact, Slon has been pleased with the ensemble's work this year. "These are very talented, intelligent, and inspired singers with a tremendous work ethic. The challenge is to keep them growing musically so they have a sense of the high-level ensemble music making that is possible here at Oberlin. My goal is usually the same: to lead and inspire a group to reach its potential and to keep the process engaging by exposing singers to new repertoire and performance opportunities."

In this respect, the Oberlin College Choir had an adventurous semester. Besides the Severance Hall concerts, members of the group worked with Moses Hogan '79, who brought his group, the Moses Hogan Singers, to campus in February. The ensemble is also scheduled to perform before years' end, under Slon's direction, a program of baroque music with the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra and 20th-century works with the Musical Union.

Founded in 1929 by Olaf C. Christiansen as the Oberlin A Cappella Choir, the Oberlin College Choir performs a wide variety of a capella and accompanied choral literature. In 1964, under the direction of Robert Fountain, the ensemble sang 39 concerts in the former Soviet Union and Romania as part of the Cultural Exchange Program of the U.S. State Department. Since 1997, the choir has been conducted by Assistant Professor of Choral Conducting Hugh Floyd, who is on sabbatical this year.
-Jennifer Spitulnik '01

A Record Year for Gregory Fulkerson;
Oberlin Percussion Group Joins Tour

Professor of Violin Gregory Fulkerson has had a record year.

His recording of Bach's sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin, on the Bridge label, made The New Yorker's short list: "Disks of Distinction." Fulkerson "combines a thorough knowledge of early-music techniques with the generous warmth of the mainstream tradition, filtered through the attentive ears of a first-class new-music player," wrote Russell Platt in the January 15 issue. On the other side of the Atlantic, England's Classic FM magazine lauded his "uncontainable energy and gloriously full-bodied sound."

Fulkerson's February performance of Aaron Jay Kernis's Air with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society was broadcast on WNYC radio. Returning to New York, in March, Fulkerson presented a program of new music at Merkin Concert Hall, featuring the Oberlin Percussion Group (OPG).

Conducted by Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen, who founded the ensemble in 1972, the OPG is known for premiering and performing new percussion works. Fulkerson, too, has been active in commissioning, performing, and recording music by prominent American composers.

The Merkin program included a piece by Oberlin alumnus David Schober '96, Empty Shells along with Richard Wernick's Sonata for Violin and Piano, Donald Erb's Sonata for Solo Violin and Stacy Garrop's Neurotichotomy. Pianist Charles Abramovic accompanied Fulkerson, and the OPG joined him for the grand finale--the original version of Michael Daugherty's 1986 Lex, written for Fulkerson. The works performed at Merkin Hall were all either written for or commissioned by Fulkerson; all but one were New York premieres.

Fulkerson then performed Lex with the OPG in March at Yale University, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music. For these performances, Rosen conducted the OPG in a program of works by François Rose, Mary Ellen Childs, Walter Ross, Peter Child, and William Hubbel.

Since winning first prize in the 1980 International American Music Competition, Fulkerson has performed more than 35 different concerti with orchestra including New York appearances with the Philadelphia and American symphony orchestras. In 1992 he performed the role of Einstein in a world-tour revival of Philip Glass' landmark Einstein on the Beach which he also recorded for the Nonesuch label. His Bridge-label CD set of the violin sonatas of Charles Ives has become the standard version of those works.

The OPG has commissioned works by such composers as Ed Miller, Richard Hoffman, Dary John Mizelle, Randy Coleman, and Michael Daugherty. The ensemble has also performed the American premieres of several works by Japanese and European composers, including the first American performance of Pleides by Iannis Xenakis, Prelude by Riccardo Malipiero, Con Luigi Dallapiccola by Luigi Nono, and Voûtes by Michaël Levinas.

An extensive collection of Western percussion instruments helps make such performances possible. Rosen welcomes and encourages composers to send scores for performance by the OPG.

In 1984, the OPG won the Percussion Ensemble Contest sponsored by the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), and it performed Persephassa at the PAS International Convention in Washington, D.C. The ensemble was again featured in 1990 at a PAS convention. The group has made several recordings for the Opus One, Lumina, and CRI labels.

Members of the OPG who toured this spring are Hudie Broughton, a junior from Duluth, Minnesota; Reagan Fletcher, a senior from Canandaigua, New York; Scott Forth, a senior from Buffalo, New York; Tim McKay, a sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia; Adam Sliwinski, a senior from Hudson, Ohio; and John Tarcza, a senior from Alexandria, Virginia.
-Marci Janas '91

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