Hendricks Chapel Choir to embark on two-week performance and exploration tour of China
Hendricks Chapel Choir to embark on two-week performance and exploration tour of ChinaMay 12, 2005Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
The Hendricks Chapel Choir will kick off a two-week musical and cultural tour of China on May 16.
The 47-member choir, ranging from freshmen to graduate students, will give performances of their “An American Sampler” concert at the Concert Hall of the China National Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing (two concerts); the Xian Conservatory of Music in Xian; and the Guilin Teachers’ Institute of Higher Learning in Guilin (two concerts). A Website, http://hendricks.syr.edu/choir/tour.html, has been created to follow the progress of the tour, and will include photos and reflections from choir members as they travel.
The choir will perform under the direction of G. Burton Harbison, associate professor in the Setnor School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, who is retiring this month after 27 years at SU and a 38-year college teaching career. Harbison has led the choir since 1994, and the tour of China is the culmination of his extraordinary career and service to the SU community.
The tour is also part of Hendricks Chapel’s 75th anniversary celebration. The choir embarks on an international tour every four years so that each member of the choir has the opportunity to tour internationally during their time at the University. The choir toured Poland and the Czech Republic in 2001. Harbison has also led the group on numerous tours within the United States.
Accompanying the choir on tour will be the Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, dean of Hendricks Chapel; Christopher Marks, University organist and assistant professor in the Setnor School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts; Ida Trebicka, affiliate artist in Setnor School of Music; the Rev. Kelly Norman Sprinkle, Interdenominational Protestant Campus Ministry chaplain, and Susan Harbison.
The musical program the choir will perform includes a representation of 20th-century religious music; two Civil War-era pieces; and two pieces by American composer Aaron Copland. Pieces such as these really give the program an American flavor,” says Harbison.
Choir members have learned two Chinese folk songs, “Tui Chao Mian” and “Kang Ding Quing Ke,” by Liu Zhaung, a former member of the SU College of Visual and Performing Arts music faculty who lives in Beijing and hopes to join the choir on the tour. “The choir has had to work very hard to learn to sing these songs in Chinese,” Harbison says. Two Chinese-American members of the choir have been helping their fellow choir members with the language.
Another piece the choir will perform, “In Time of Silver Rain,” was written by Fred Thayer ’63, director of choral activities at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania. Thayer, a graduate of SU’s College of Arts and Sciences, is a former member of the Hendricks Chapel Choir. Thayer was a teacher and mentor to the current Hendricks Chapel dean, the Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, when Wolfe was an undergraduate student at Lycoming.
The musical program will close with three spirituals, “Ride the Chariot ” (arr. W.H. Smith); “My Lord, What a Mornin'” (arr. H.T. Burleigh); and “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel” (arr. Wm. Dawson). Harbison has closed each concert he has directed throughout his career with a spiritual. “It’s one of America’s strongest musical forms,” he says.
During their time in China, the choir will explore the historical and cultural sites of Beijing, including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City; the Great Wall and the Ming Tomb; take a Lijiang River Cruise and visit the Hong Kong Museum of History. The choir will return to the U.S. on May 30.