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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2008

IU Jacobs School presents Verdi's 'Requiem' in Bloomington and Indianapolis

Feb. 11, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Philharmonic Orchestra and Oratorio Chorus will offer two free performances of Verdi's masterwork, Requiem, in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

IU Philharmonic and Oratorio Chorus

The IU Philharmonic and Oratorio Chorus will offer two free performances of Verdi's "Requiem."

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Intensely dramatic in nature, Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem stands as the great opera composer's musical examination of the meaning of life and death. This masterpiece of the choral repertory sings of faith, doubt, heaven and hell in music of overwhelming beauty and thrilling suspense. William Jon Gray conducts the IU Philharmonic Orchestra, Oratorio Chorus and a quartet of soloists from IU Opera Theater in two free performances -- in the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington on Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. and in the Second Presbyterian Church, 7700 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis on March 1 at 8 p.m.

A masterwork from the composer's late career, Verdi composed his Requiem as a tribute in honor of two Italian national heroes -- the opera composer Gioachino Rossini, and the novelist and political figure Alessandro Manzoni. The composer poured all of the aspects of his mature style into this work -- the supreme operatic dramatist, the patriot-artist of the Italian unification movement, the Romantic composer and the ordinary man with peasant roots exploring the struggle of life, death and faith.

In the Requiem -- by definition, a prayer of the living for the dead -- Verdi employed the text of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass as a dramatization of the soul's questions and feelings about dying, death and the afterlife. Taking its rightful place alongside of the late masterpieces of Shakespeare and Dante, Verdi's Requiem sets the timeless liturgical Requiem Mass text as the mature composer's philosophical and theological examination of human mortality.

The 85-member IU Philharmonic Orchestra, the premier orchestral ensemble of the Jacobs School of Music, will be joined by the 130-member Oratorio Chorus, which is itself a combination of the top three choral groups of the Jacobs School of Music -- the University Singers, University Chorale and Contemporary Vocal Ensemble.

An impressive group of rising soloists from IU Opera Theater includes, for the Indianapolis performance, soprano Carolina Castells, who made a stunning professional debut with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra last season in Brahms' Requiem (and is presently a semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions), mezzo-soprano Lindsay Amman, tenor John Rodger and bass Cody Medina. The Bloomington performance will feature soprano Jing Zhang, mezzo-soprano Nicole Birkland, tenor Jason Wickson and baritone Aleksey Bogdanov.

William Jon Gray

William Jon Gray

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Conductor William Jon Gray is a director of Choral Activities at the IU Jacobs School of Music. He has been associate conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California, music director of the Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra of Washington, D.C., interim conductor of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, assistant conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston and is currently artistic director of the Bach Chorale Singers of Lafayette.

Gray's recent appearances include Handel's Solomon with the Bloomington Early Music Festival in Bloomington and Indianapolis, Monteverdi's Vespers with the Carmel Bach Festival in San Francisco and Carmel, Bach's Trauerode with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra and the KammerBach Chamber Choir, Mozart's Requiem with the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Mozart's Mass in C Minor with the IU Symphony Orchestra and Oratorio Chorus in Bloomington and Lafayette.