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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009

J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass to be performed in Bloomington and Indianapolis

A musical masterpiece to be performed in Bloomington, Indianapolis

WHEN: Nov. 11 and 14 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Auer Hall, Bloomington
WHEN: Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, 6050 N. Meridian St.
TICKETS: All performances are free and open to the public.

Nov, 4, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 -- widely considered one of the composer's most intriguing and monumental compositions -- is scheduled to be performed in Bloomington Nov. 11 and 14 and in Indianapolis Nov. 13 by the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Pro Arte Singers and Chamber Orchestra.

Conducted by Professor William Jon Gray, the work has not been heard in Bloomington for more than 10 years.

William Jon Gray

Print-Quality Photo

"One of the things that intrigues me about this extraordinary piece is that it was written in the last few years of Bach's life and, in many ways, represents his final thoughts on musical composition and what music meant to him," said Gray, "He took extraordinary care that the volume of scores that make up the work would be preserved and gave the manuscripts to his son, Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach."

Set within the Catholic mass tradition, the work has been called "the greatest artwork of all times and all people" by 19th-century composer Hans Georg Nageli.

All three free performances will take place in recently refurbished and acoustically improved concert settings: Bloomington's Auer Hall and Indianapolis's St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

About the Pro Arte Singers

Now under the direction of William John Gray, the Pro Arte Singers is a chamber choir that performs medieval, renaissance and baroque repertory. Founded in the 1960s by Fiora Contino and John Reeves White, Pro Arte evolved into a specialized performing organization under previous conductors Thomas Binkley, Paul Hillier and John Poole. The ensemble has made critically acclaimed recordings on the Focus (IU Early Music Institute) label, including recently expanding its repertoire to include the music of contemporary composers Arvo Pärt and Giles Swayne to complement its stylish performances of early composers. In addition to choral concerts, the members perform early theatrical works and baroque opera, and, on a smaller scale, solo chamber music with other voices and instruments.

About the Chamber Orchestra

As one of six orchestral ensembles in the Jacobs School of Music, the Chamber Orchestra specializes in small- to medium-sized orchestral works. With talented students from around the globe, the orchestra is conducted by a variety of Jacobs School of Music conductors, including David Effron, Arthur Fagen and Uriel Segal.

About William Jon Gray

Jacobs School of Music Assistant Professor William Jon Gray served for three seasons as associate conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California, where he prepared and performed major choral/orchestral works in collaboration with internationally renowned conductor Bruno Weil. He served as interim conductor of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, preparing the Choir for performances with Raymond Leppard and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

As artistic director of the Lafayette-based Bach Chorale Singers, Gray has received high praise for his performances of major choral/orchestral works. The Bach Chorale Singers' 1998 commercially released CD recording, In Praise of the Organ: Latin Choral and Organ Music of Zoltán Kodály, under Gray's direction, received national attention and critical acclaim in the American Record Guide and the American Organist.

Gray served as artistic director of the Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra of Washington, D.C., from 1986 to 1993. He has been assistant conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, and has appeared as guest conductor with the National Chamber Orchestra, the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra and the Handel and Haydn Society.

Gray studied at the Jacobs School of Music, The Juilliard School, the New England Conservatory and Boston University, and has studied conducting with Robert Porco, Thomas Dunn and Richard Pittman. He worked and performed frequently with Robert Shaw and has appeared as a member of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in recordings and concerts in France and in concerts at Carnegie Hall.