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Oberlin Musical Union Celebrates 175th Year with Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor

Nov. 16, 2012

Photo by John Seyfried

OBERLIN, OHIO — An enduring institution that brings together musical artistry and community, the Oberlin Musical Union plans to celebrate its 175th anniversary by bringing Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor to the stage. This will be performed in collaboration with the Oberlin Orchestra under the baton of Musical Union Director Jason Harris. The December 9 concert will begin at 8:00 p.m. in Finney Chapel. Featured soloists include Oberlin voice faculty members Salvatore Champagne, tenor, and Timothy LeFebvre, bass, in addition to soprano voice alumnae Ellie Dehn ’02 and Marcy Stonikas ’02. Admission is free and tickets are not required.

Founded in 1837, Oberlin Musical Union is the second-oldest community chorus in the country, focusing exclusively on masterworks of choral-symphonic repertoire. “The ensemble provides a wonderful opportunity for the community,” Director Jason Harris says, “and the concert on December 9 features one of Mozart’s most famous and beautiful works.”

“This is music that simply isn’t found outside of major cities—the large, truly massive, orchestral works,” Harris adds. In addition to directing MU, Harris serves as assistant professor of choral conducting and director of choral ensembles. He joined the Oberlin Conservatory faculty in 2011.

Ann Craig, who has been singing with the Musical Union since the 1950s, explains what keeps her returning year after year. “It has been the allure of particular music and the chance to learn something new that continues to draw me back. It’s a thrill to sing rousing music in a large group.”

The Oberlin Musical Union, originally named the Oberlin Musical Association, was founded in 1837 when seven Oberlin students petitioned the faculty to form a musical group. This took place within the context of a shift from the non-accompanied psalm singing of the colonial era towards classical sacred music. The group sang medleys of classical and secular-popular songs; during the Civil War, the concerts included patriotic pieces. Eventually, instrumentation was added to the association, and has evolved into the collaboration of choral and instrumental ensemble of today. The union no longer performs the popular works of the past, but continues the tradition of playing large-scale pieces, pulling from composers such as Haydn, Beethoven, Orff, and in the case of this year’s concert, Mozart.

Oberlin Conservatory is pleased to announce open auditions for the 2013 spring season. To schedule an audition, contact Musical Union Director and Conductor Jason Harris at Auditions will consist of vocal exercises, listening exercises, and two brief sight-reading excerpts. The Musical Union rehearses from 7:15–9:30 pm on Mondays at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Fact Sheet

Oberlin Musical Union, 175th Anniversary Celebration Concert
With the Oberlin Orchestra

Sunday, December 9, 2012, 8 p.m.
Finney Chapel, 90 North Professor Street
Oberlin, Ohio  44074

Free admission; no tickets are required

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Great Mass in C Minor
Jason Harris, conductor
Salvatore Champagne, tenor
Timothy LeFebvre, bass
Ellie Dehn ’02, soprano
Marcy Stonikas ’02, soprano

About the Oberlin Musical Union
Founded in 1837, the 140-voice Oberlin Musical Union is the second-oldest community chorus in the country, focusing exclusively on masterworks of choral symphonic repertoire. Recent presentations include Orff’s Carmina Burana, Haydn’s Creation, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem Mass, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.

About Jason Harris
Jason Harris is Assistant Professor of Choral Conducting and Director of Choral Ensembles at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he conducts the Oberlin College Choir, Oberlin Treble Ensemble, Oberlin Musical Union, and teaches choral conducting. In 2006 he received two GRAMMY® Awards (“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”) as a choral director for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s monumental Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

From 2002 to 2011 Harris served as Assistant Conductor of the University Musical Society Choral Union, a symphonic community chorus based in Ann Arbor that frequently appears with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In this capacity, Harris prepared the chorus for performances under conductors such as Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, Sir Neville Marriner, Leonard Slatkin, Neeme Järvi, James Conlon, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and composer John Adams.

To meet the growing demand for performances of early music in Michigan, Harris founded Audivi Vocem, a 20-voice chamber ensemble dedicated to the interpretation of rarely heard sacred works of the Renaissance. Recent performances include Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Officium Defunctorum, and motets by Hans Leo Hassler, Leonhard Lechner, Heinrich Schütz, and Roland de Lassus.

Harris holds the Bachelor of Music degree in Conducting from Chapman University (CA), and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Conducting from the University of Michigan.

About Salvatore Champagne
Salvatore Champagne is currently Associate Professor of Singing and Director of the Vocal Studies Division at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

A graduate of Oberlin and the Juilliard School, his singing career began in 1988 when he was chosen to be the tenor soloist in a European tour of Leonard Bernstein's Songfest conducted by the composer. Immediately thereafter he joined the ensemble of the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, Germany, appearing in a wide range of leading tenor roles. For the next ten years he was engaged as guest artist in many of Europe’s finest opera houses and concert halls.

Champagne’s singing has been recognized with numerous awards, including prizes at the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition and the International Singing Competition s’Hertogenbosch, as well as grants from MUSICA, the Sullivan Foundation, and the National Institute for Musical Theater.

He is a much sought after voice instructor and appears throughout the country giving master classes and seminars. Champagne’s students have won many prestigious competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions, and appear regularly with premiere performing organizations throughout the United States and abroad.

About Timothy LeFebvre
Nationally acclaimed baritone Timothy LeFebvre has wide-ranging experience from the operatic stage to the concert hall. 2011-2012 appearances include Messiah with the Handel Choir of Baltimore and the Downtown Singers in Binghamton, NY, Elijah with the Berkshire Choral Festival, Opera Arias and Copland’s Old American Songs with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Williamsport Symphony.

LeFebvre has appeared in concert with the Jacksonville Symphony, Pensacola Symphony, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Symphony, Minnesota Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Spokane Symphony, Rochester Bach Festival, Berkshire Choral Festival, Williamsport Symphony, Syracuse Chamber Music Society, the Skaneateles Festival and the Marlboro Music Festival. He has also appeared in concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall.

LeFebvre’s operatic experience includes leading roles with Central City Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Sarasota Opera, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Syracuse Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Opera Delaware, and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.

Future performances include Mozart’s Requiem with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the New Dominion Chorale in Washington, DC, Mozart’s Requiem with West Virginia Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Firelands Symphony, and Britten’s War Requiem with Jacksonville Symphony.

LeFebvre is currently Associate Professor of Singing at Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

About Ellie Dehn
Respected and admired for her exceptional artistic skills, American soprano Ellie Dehn has or will appear in many of the world's leading opera house including Teatro alla Scala, Metropolitan Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Rome, Geneva, Bologna, Santa Cecilia, and Houston Grand Opera.

Having made her 2007 Metropolitan Opera debut at Opera in the Parks as Marguerite in Faust, Dehn made her Met house debut as Mrs. Naidoo in Philip Glass's Satyagraha, and also performed Musetta in La Boheme. She also portrayed the role of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with the Ravinia Festival, the Bayerische Staatsoper, Opera Pacific, and PORT Opera. She has appeared in other top companies including San Francisco, Houston Grand Opera, Tulsa Opera, and Opera Pacific

Dehn won first prize grants in the 2007 George London Competition and the Gerda Lissner Foundation. Other honors and awards include the 2005 National Grand Finalist Award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and top prizes in the Elardo and Licia Albanese/Puccini Foundation Competitions.

Dehn is a 2002 graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

About Marcy Stonikas
Dramatic soprano Marcy Stonikas has performed to critical acclaim in opera companies across the nation. A 2012 Filene Young Artist at Wolf Trap Opera Company, she has appeared with the Seattle Opera, Elgin Opera, Chamber Opera Chicago, and CCPA Opera Theater in title roles of Don GiovanniAriadne auf NaxosVanessa, and Suor Angelica.

Stonikas has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra as Blumenmädchen in Wagner’s Parsifal, conducted by Pierre Boulez, as well performing in Puccini’s Tosca with the Cleveland Opera on Tour. She performs regularly with the International Contemporary Ensemble and is a frequent guest on WFMT, Chicago’s classical radio station. Stonikas’ concert repertoire includes such works as Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s C Minor Mass, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Dvorak’s Te Deum, and Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio.

Stonikas has collected numerous awards and accolades, including Wolf Trap Opera Company’s Catherine Shouse Career Grant (2011 & 2012), and first prizes in the Elgin Opera Voice Competition (2009) and the International Meistersinger Competition (2006).

Stonikas is a 2002 graduate of Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.

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