Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

A new commissioned work and choreography will be part of “A Lafayette Christmas 2002: Winter Concert and Carol-Sing” 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts. The concert will be followed by the traditional carol sing-along and cookies.

Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the music department. Performances will be given by the Concert Choir, Madrigal Singers, Faculty/Staff Chamber Choir, and College Orchestra.

“A college choir is a new instrument every season,” says Nina Gilbert, director of choral activities. “This semester we have a particularly hearty sound, and we’ve chosen some thick harmonies to show off that new strength.”

Making its premiere will be “Between Us and the Stars,” the second piece written by Russian-American composer Maxim Vladimiroff for Lafayette’s Concert Choir, with words by English writer Jerome K. Jerome. Vladimiroff’s prior commissioned work for the choir was “Nature Loves This Rhyme So Well: Seasons in the Journals of Thoreau,” a cantata premiered by the choir in April 2001. A resident of Putnam, N.Y., Vladimiroff will attend Sunday’s performance with his wife, Leisa.

“We love the way he writes for voices — it feels so natural to sing,” says Gilbert. “As Lafayette English Professor Laura Walls commented on his Thoreau setting two years ago, ‘Max’s composition is not words set to music, but words recreated as music — [the author’s] thoughts realized in a radically new way.’”

World-class choreographer Stevie Rivers Rawlings has created dance steps for “How Do I Love Thee?,” a selection to be sung by the Concert Choir women, and a barbershop setting of “When I’m Sixty-Four,” which the Concert Choir men will sing. “Stevie’s steps are brilliant — she takes gestures we already know or can learn, and combines them in artistic ways,” notes Gilbert.

Much of the program is associated with the theme of celebration: “Now Does the Glorious Day Appear” by Henry Purcell, composed for the birthday of Queen Mary II, performed by combined choirs and orchestra; “Jaanilaul,” song of St. John, by Veljo Tormis, a mystical piece based on “ancient spells” about St. John’s Day, the second major holiday in Estonia, Concert Choir; “Joseph, lieber Joseph mein” (Joseph, dearest Joseph mine) from A Christmas Magnificat by Samuel Scheidt, Madrigal Singers with harpsichord accompaniment; “Nowell: Out Of Your Sleep,” a medieval English carol (anonymous) that was a candlelight processional 600 years ago; and “Verbum caro factum est” (The word was made flesh) by Hans Leo Hassler, Concert Choir.

The program also includes three spirituals: “Motherless Child,” a throbbing, intense setting by Adolphus Hailstork, Concert Choir; “Wade in the Watah,” an innovative setting by Isaye M. Barnwell (of gospel group Sweet Honey in the Rock), Madrigal Singers; and “Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho,” a recently rediscovered setting by Marylou India Jackson, Faculty/Staff Chamber Choir.

Other selections include a lute song, Gilbert’s arrangement of three Shaker spirituals, an Irish song, two pieces using nonsensical syllables, and a gypsy song in Hungarian.

“I’m proud of how adventurous the students have become with exotic languages,” says Gilbert. “This program includes short pieces in Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, and Irish Gaelic, in addition to the more customary German and Latin. It’s fun to shape your mouth around the words that sound like ‘gun-thoorch,’ an Irish word that we think means ‘danger.’”

Gilbert holds a doctorate in musical arts from Stanford University, a master’s in music from Indiana University, and a bachelor’s in music from Princeton University. Before coming to Lafayette, she was lecturer in the department of music at the University of California, Irvine and served in a variety of roles. She also taught at Hamilton, Ferrum, and Wabash Colleges, the Hartt School of the University of Hartford, and Westminster Choir College of Rider University. She has numerous choral arrangements and editions in print and is associate editor of Choral Journal. She offers commentaries on choral topics for the “Performance Today” show on National Public Radio.

Vladimiroff was born in Sochi, Russia in 1968. He was influenced musically by his father, a concert pianist with interests in jazz and improvisation. Vladimiroff majored in piano at the Gnessin College of Music in Moscow in the mid-’80s, where he also studied jazz and graduated with honors. He left Russia in 1991 to pursue jazz — “the only kind of improvised music I knew” — and earned his masters of fine arts degree in music composition at the University of California-Irvine. Gilbert coached him there as he composed a piece for the university women’s chorus that premiered two years ago. Gilbert also coached Vladimiroff as he wrote “Nature Loves This Rhyme So Well: Seasons in the Journals of Thoreau.”

Vladimiroff’s works have been premiered by members of the New York New Music Ensemble, the Flux Quartet, and others. He has won prizes from the National Association of Composers USA and the Lili Boulanger Foundation, a scholarship to study at the Schola Cantorum in Paris.

Categorized in: Students