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Chamber Choir in concert April 7

The Furman University Chamber Choir will present a concert Thursday, April 7 at 8 p.m. in Daniel Memorial Chapel on campus.

Open to the public, the performance, “Rejoice In God, O Ye Tongues; Hallelujah! A Choral Acclamation of Invocation, Adoration and Praise,” is a Sound Quality Concert Series event. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students.

Under the direction of William Thomas and accompanied by University Organist Charles Tompkins, the Chamber Choir will take full advantage of the Daniel Chapel setting and the Hartness organ in presenting an evening of sacred choral music. Highlighting the performance is a rendering of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece “Rejoice in the Lamb,” a cantata for four solo voices and choir written in 1943.

In the event’s program notes, Dr. Thomas writes:

The centerpiece of the concert, “Rejoice in the Lamb” (“Jubilate Agno”), is comprised of passages from 18th century free verse poetry set in 1943 by Benjamin Britten. The poet, Christopher Smart (1722-1771), a devout Christian and a highly educated and successful poet, writer, librettist and publisher, wrote the verse “Jubilate Agno” over a period of about five years during his incarceration in an insane asylum. Not unlike hymn verses of St. Francis, the poems, selected by Britten from the full work, are a proclamation of God’s glory found in all of God’s creation – even from a cell with only a cat for a companion.

Institutionalized, at least in part for disturbing the peace by praying often and loudly in public, Smart uses several verses to describe his experience in a way that parallels his with Christ’s own suffering. He then offers a remarkable roll call of Old Testament figures bringing God’s creatures to the altar in praise, and a listing even of the sounds of words as examples of divine celebration. Britten’s remarkable genius for the setting of the English tongue is nowhere better heard than in this piece, whose shifting meters, intricate rhythms and haunting harmonies, coupled with stunning idiomatic writing for the organ and solo voices has given it a deserved designation of one of the most important works for choir and organ of the 20th century. “Hallelujah from the heart of God,” indeed!

For more information about the concert, call the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086. To purchase tickets online, visit this link.

About William Thomas

Dr. William Thomas served as Chair of Furman’s Music Department for nearly two decades, and currently teaches studio voice and vocal pedagogy, directs the department’s study away program, Music in Italy, and regularly conducts major works for choir and orchestra. A member of the Furman faculty since 1987, his career is marked by constant activity as a solo and ensemble singer, conductor and clinician, almost 40 years of college teaching and administration, and a number of significant church music positions. His work with the Furman Chamber Choir includes the annual presentation of a Festival of Lessons and Carols in Furman’s Daniel Chapel. Thomas worked closely with the late Robert Shaw studying, performing and recording in the United States and abroad. His association with Shaw led to his being named Director of the 1998 Robert Shaw Choral Institute, held on the Furman campus, and to his work as assistant editor of Robert Blocker’s A Robert Shaw Reader, Yale University Press, 2004.

About Charles Tompkins

Tompkins, Professor of Music and University Organist, has been a member of the Music Department faculty since 1986. He also serves as organist of First Baptist Church in Greenville. Tompkins received his doctorate in organ performance from the Eastman School of Music and was awarded Eastman’s Performer’s Certificate in recognition of outstanding performing accomplishment. He holds the bachelor of music in organ performance from Eastman and the master of music from the University of Michigan. Tompkins is an active recitalist and clinician, performing each year at major universities and churches throughout the United States. He has presented recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Piccolo Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, S.C., and at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Music Teachers National Association, and the College Music Society. He was a featured artist at AGO regional conventions in Nashville, Fort Wayne, and Charleston, S.C. Tompkins’ performances have been broadcast nationally on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams,” and his debut CD, Solemnity and Joy, was released in 2001 on the Pro Organo label.

Last updated April 7, 2016
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Clinton Colmenares
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