Masterworks Chorale Carmina Burana

The Masterworks Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Erik Reid Jones, will present Carl Orff's masterpiece Carmina Burana, one of the most popular and enduring works of classical music of all time, on Saturday, May 2nd at 8:00 p.m. in the Frank Arts Center Theater of Shepherd University.

The concert will feature a full orchestra and professional soloists. In addition to Carmina Burana, the Masterworks Chorale will be performing some smaller works with the orchestra, including Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus and Brahms's delightful masterpiece, Schicksalslied. These works, with their elegant beauty and rich harmonies, will form a counterpoint to the pomp and bombast of Carmina Burana.

Often imitated, but never duplicated, Carmina Burana is unique in the classical choral music canon. It is secular (profoundly so), where most of the popular works of choral music are sacred in nature. The poetry is from medieval times, and while much of it was written by monks, it celebrates love, feasting, drinking, and gambling. It is a veritable haven of earthly pleasures, and the music reflects this grounding in matters of the earth, as opposed to matters of the spirit.

Singing the solo roles in this production are Jonathan Gabriel Michie, baritone, lyric coloratura Elisabeth Turchi, and counter-tenor Greg Starliper. The enormous ensemble, overflowing the stage, will not only be a delight to hear, but also a remarkable visual spectacle in concert.

Jonathan Gabriel Michie is pursuing a versatile career in Opera, Theatre and concert work. His recent engagements have included an Off Broadway production of Kern/Hammerstein's Music in the Air, the role of Mr. Lindquist in A Little Night Music at the White Plains Performing Arts Center, and a workshop of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: The New Musical, slated for a 2010 Broadway opening. Favorite stage roles include: Danilo in The Merry Widow, Masetto in Don Giovanni, John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, Robert in Company, Pandolfe in Cendrillon, Strephon in Iolanthe, and Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd. Mr. Michie has been a resident artist with the Ravinia Festival's Steans Institute for Young Artists, a Young Artist with the Chautauqua Opera Company, and a member of the Ohio Light Opera Company. He has been featured in concert at Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Spoleto Festival USA, Chicago's Ravinia Festival, and with many regional orchestras and choral ensembles. He will sing roles in Carmen, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Lucia di Lammermoor during the 2009/10 season with Florida Grand Opera. Michie is the recipient of awards at numerous competitions including the Kurt Weill Foundation's Lotte Lenya Competition, the Great Lakes Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, Classical Singer Magazine's AudComps, the Licia Albanese/Puccini Foundation, the Charles A. Lynam Competition, the Palm Beach Opera Competition, the National Orpheus Vocal Competition, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation's American Song Award, and the Liederkranz Foundation's Reusche Lieder Award. He recently completed his Master of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music and is a proud member of Actors' Equity.

Elisabeth Turchi, Shepherd University voice professor, is rapidly emerging as an exciting new artist in the opera world. An audience favorite in Europe and the United States, Ms. Turchi is hailed for her passion and artistry in bringing music's most beautiful and challenging works to life. Ms. Turchi recently performed Gabriel in Haydn's Die Schopfung at the Liszt Academy in Budapest and St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna under the direction of two-time Grammy award winner Robert Page. She returned from Europe, performing as the soprano soloist in Mozart's Mass in C Minor to standing ovations at the Festival 2008 Celebration Series at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. The 2008 and 2009 season featured Ms. Turchi in selections from Rigoletto and Die Fledermaus for Annapolis Opera, Mozart’s Requiem with Hagerstown Choral Arts, and Messiah with the Worcester Chorus in Mechanics Hall. Past highlights include her overseas debut in Rome as Alice in Falstaff, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Harrisburg Opera, Cio-Cio San's Cousin in Madama Butterfly with the Pittsburgh Opera, and Madame Silverklang in The Impresario. Ms. Turchi has also performed with New York City's Gotham Chamber Opera in Les Larmes du Couteau, Dido and Aeneas and Les Malheurs d'Orphee. Ms. Turchi has studied in Italy with The International Institute of Vocal Arts, The International Lyric Academy of Rome, and The Ezio Pinza Council of American Singers of Opera. Ms. Turchi holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and her Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Shenandoah University. She is featured on the recording of Haydn's Die Schopfung at the Liszt Academy in Budapest by CMI Records.

Music director, Dr. Erik Reid Jones, is the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and founder and artistic director of the Master Singers of Virginia. He received his Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude in vocal music education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, his Master of Music degree in choral conducting at the University of Cincinnati, and his doctoral degree in choral conducting at the University of Maryland at College Park. Locally, he has taught at Shenandoah Conservatory, Harford Community College, and the University of Maryland. While his conducting takes him all over the Washington, DC region performing music from medieval times onward, he has a particular love for a cappella choral music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Dr. Jones is a published author and an avid choral composer, with over twenty works to his credit, most of which have been premiered by the Master Singers.

The Masterworks Chorale, a vocal ensemble with over 100 singers, comprised of Shepherd University vocal students and members from the surrounding community, presents two full-length concerts per year of great masterpieces from the choral literature as well as appearances at the Annual Holiday Gala and Family Concert.

General admission for Carmina Burana is $15; $10 for faculty, staff and seniors; $5 for students 18 and under; and free for Shepherd Students and Friends of Music Gold or Silver MAC Cardholders. To purchase tickets visit http://www.shepherd.edu/musicweb/masterworks_chorale.html. For more information call 304-876-5555 or visit www.shepherd.edu/musicweb.