Denison Concert Choir Performs Handel's Jephtha
Posted: March 30, 2000
The Denison Concert Choir will perform George Frideric Handel's "Jephtha" as part of their spring concert at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday (April 9) in Swasey Chapel. The performance will feature an orchestra and a quintet of soloists. The program will be conducted by Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts William Osborne and is free and open to the public.
The oratorio is preceded on the concert program by the orchestra's presentation of a Suite in D major drawn from Handel's "Water Music," which includes the famous "Hornpipe," featuring the horns and trumpets.
"Jephtha," Handel's last oratorio, was written in 1751 and first performed the following year. Its language is based largely on the Old Testament story found in Judges 11 in which Jephtha leads the Israelites into a battle which frees them from the oppressive Ammonites. However, having vowed to sacrifice the first person he meets following a victory, the story turns tragic when that individual happens to be his daughter. In Thomas Morrell's libretto, however, that outcome is avoided by divine intervention.
The guest soloists portray the principle characters in the story, while the choir takes on the role of the people. The five guest soloists featured are: soprano Belinda Andrews-Smith; mezzo-soprano Carolyn Redman; countertenor Steven Rickards; tenor Brian Redman; and baritone Barton Gilleland. The cameo role of the Angel will be sung by soprano Diane Skinner, a first-year Denison student from Harare, Zimbabwe.
Rickards, one of the country's most prominent countertenors, holds a graduate degree from Indiana University and studied at the Guildhall School in London on Fulbright and Rotary grants. He currently teaches at both the University of Indianapolis and Butler University. Rickards has performed with every prominent early music group in this country, says Osborne, and has also worked in the realm of contemporary music, creating the role of Tinculo in John Eaton's "The Tempest" at the Santa Fe Opera in 1985. He also performs Renaissance lute songs as part of the Rickards-Linell Duo. His performances have taken him to central America, England, Denmark, Poland, Norway and Germany. He can be heard on eight recordings.
All of the other soloists have studied at Ohio State University and are well-known in the central Ohio area for their work with organizations such as the Columbus Light Opera and Opera Columbus. Andrews-Smith recently sang the role of Dama in Verdi's "Macbeth." She earned her doctorate in vocal pedagogy and is the coordinator of vocal studies at Denison. Brian Redman teaches voice at Denison and is also a member of the faculty at Circleville Bible College. Carolyn Redman has been a member of the Des Moines Metro Opera company and will spend this summer in Austria as the winner of a prestigious competition sponsored by Opera Columbus. Gilleland is a graduate student at Ohio State and a member of the Muskingum College faculty. He has performed in the New Texas Festival and in the I Soloisti Program at the Lucca, Italy opera theater.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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