GVSU arts chorale and orchestra to hold last performance of Fall Arts Celebration series

By Carmen Smith | 12/4/16 11:00pm

GVL / Courtesy - Caitlin Cusack Fall Arts Celebration
by Caitlin Cusack and Caitlin Cusack / The Lanthorn

The University Arts Chorale at Grand Valley State University will accompany an orchestra made up of GVSU faculty members and Grand Rapids Symphony members and a brass ensemble to ring in the holiday season with the sounds of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. This musical performance will be the last piece in this year’s Fall Arts Celebration series.

The performance will be held Monday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Fountain Street Church at 24 Fountain St. NE in downtown Grand Rapids.

The Brass Prelude Ensemble will open the concert. The group plans to perform a holiday song arranged by GVSU alumna Ashley Bush, followed by a movement by Giovanni Gabrieli.

Following the Brass Prelude Ensemble, the GVSU University Arts Chorale and Messiah orchestra will be performing all of Handel’s Messiah, closing the night out with the holiday classic, “Hallelujah Chorus.”

The concert will be conducted by Kevin Tutt, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The University Arts Chorale will be directed by GVSU professor Ellen Pool.

“Hearing live music is very different from hearing recordings, and it’s somewhat of a tradition for audience members to stand up and sing along with the Hallelujah Chorus at the end,” said Alexander Wilson, GVSU professor and first trumpet in the Brass Prelude Ensemble and Messiah orchestra. “It’s glorious. It’s just a brilliant piece.”

Joining the University Arts Chorale will be four soloists performing different movements within Messiah.

Soprano soloist, Ashly Neumann, is a GVSU alumna who is now traveling the country performing opera. Bass soloist Jason Coffey, is also a former GVSU student who was the lead in the fall opera and sang at the Metropolitan Opera. Tenor soloist Michael Forest has also performed at the Metropolitan Opera. Alto soloist Jihanna Charlton-Davis is also successful in the opera world.

“We’re very excited to have these soloists back, it’s really great for students to see what alumni are doing,” said Caitlin Cusack, publicity and recruitment coordinator for the music and dance department. “This is a gift for the West Michigan community, Grand Valley, friends of Grand Valley. It’s unforgettable.”

In addition to the Messiah concert, there are many other holiday music concerts coming up in the next week.

A choral concert will take place Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m. featuring performances from the Cantate Chamber Ensemble, University Singers and Select Women’s Ensemble at the Cook-DeWitt Center on the Allendale Campus.

A Concert Band performance will be held Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble will hold a concert Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre.

Wilson said this is a very celebratory concert. It’s a season where you have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to celebrate.

“This is something you have to do once in your life, hear the Hallelujah chorus live with a real orchestra and a real chorus,” Cusack said. “It’s a night that you’ll never forget, the space, the acoustics, everything will flood your senses. You’ll have to pay to hear the Messiah the rest of your life. To hear it for free and done by your peers is really something special.”

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