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Legendary conductor Donald Neuen to conclude his longtime tenure with the Angeles Chorale with a performance of works by one of the most legendary composers in classical music, Ludwig van Beethoven
Joining the Angeles Chorale at “The Faith of Beethoven: A Musical Journey of Hope” are the UCLA Philharmonia orchestra, the UCLA Chorale, four vocal soloists, and piano soloist Neal Stulberg.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. In entertainment, there is a popular expression along the lines of “leaving them asking for more.” However, according to John Sutton, Artistic Director of the Angeles Chorale, music lovers throughout the Southland will leave UCLA’s Royce Hall asking not only for more music but for more performances led by Resident Guest Conductor Donald Neuen when the renowned choral ensemble concludes its 39th season, “Conversations of the Soul” with “The Faith of Beethoven: A Musical Journey of Hope” on Saturday, June 7 at 8:00 p.m.
“It’s hard to believe that this will be Don’s final appearance with the Chorale,” says Sutton. “For many in our audience, Don and the Angeles Chorale are an inseparable entity. I include myself in that group and fully expect that all of us will be in tears as the last note sounds and the bravos begin.”
Under Neuen’s baton, the Angeles Chorale – joined by the UCLA Chorale, the UCLA Philharmonia, and piano soloist Neal Stulberg – will perform Beethoven’s Hallelujah Chorus from the Mount of Olives, the Choral Fantasy (Op.80) and the Mass in C. Soprano Sarah Grandpre, alto Sarah Anderson, tenor Daniel Suk, and bass Michael Dean will appear as guest soloists.
“No greater brilliance of sound for instruments and voices has ever been produced before – or since – the compositional genius of Ludwig van Beethoven,” says Neuen, a Distinguished Professor of Music at UCLA.
Those more familiar with the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah than with Beethoven’s from the Mount of Olives will find that, while both works are beautiful and inspiring, each is dramatically different.
“Beethoven’s Hallelujah Chorus is more expressive dynamically and in a more romantic style of composition,” says Neuen. “It is a more ‘robust’ proclamation of praise to God.”
The Choral Fantasy Neuen describes simply as “a one of a kind composition – a ‘piano concerto’ for piano soloist, orchestra, chorus, and vocal solo quartet.”
The Mass in C, Neuen continues, is a very expressive, often hugely powerful setting of the five segments of the Catholic Mass that numbers – along with Beethoven’s Missa Sollemnis and the final movement of the Ninth Symphony—among Beethoven’s most notable choral compositions.
Audiences may be unaware, however, of just how demanding Beethoven’s music is for vocalists to perform.
“It is physically very hard on the voice to consistently produce the robust power expected in his writing,” Neuen explains. “He didn’t ‘care’, per se, about the human element of the voice. He only cared about what he felt he must write, which at times seems almost ‘inhuman.’ ”
As a result, Neuen and assistant conductor Dr. Rebecca Lord, Associate Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, have spent much of the Chorale’s rehearsal time teaching the singers various vocal techniques to keep what he terms “the delicate vocal mechanism in the throat” completely relaxed and unharmed.
Thelma Joe Landon, who at 85 is the Chorale’s oldest member, attests to the long term efficacy of this technique.
“It’s difficult to explain,” says Landon. “But I think of it as singing out of my forehead – so that the pressure is not down there in my throat, putting pressure on the vocal folds. I can sing for hours and not harm my voice. At my age, I certainly wouldn’t still be able to sing if I hadn’t learned this.”
Chorale soprano Laura Huusko agrees, likening singing Beethoven to “an intense, physically demanding workout.”
“Don demands that we as singers always sing beautifully and with proper technique, which takes focus and repetition, much like athletics,” says Huusko. “After a full day of work, it can feel difficult to focus for three hours on creating beautiful music with a healthy tone, but with Don leading the chorale, I always leave feeling energized rather than exhausted.”
“T. J. and Laura are two examples illustrating how the dedicated and talented singers of the Angeles Chorale have worked relentlessly, over the years, in the pursuit of choral and musical excellence,” says Neuen. “Although they represent many ‘walks of life’ in the Los Angeles area, they work at a musical level comparable to that of professional singers.”
In fact, as Neuen sees it, members of the Chorale are sometimes more ‘professional’ than the pros.
“Their commitment stems from a deep love of singing great choral music,” Neuen explains. “This often takes them further into rehearsal preparation than ‘professionals’ would be willing to give without substantial financial remuneration. Every member of the Angeles Chorale is truly a treasure within the arts of the LA area. It has been a privilege and honor to work with them.”
John Sutton responds, “The Chorale begs to differ. The ‘true treasure’ is Don himself. He will be sorely missed. Envisioning the Angeles Chorale without Don Neuen is like envisioning classical music without Beethoven. It’s inconceivable. And, yet, at the same time, Don will remain with us. At every rehearsal, every performance we will strive ceaselessly to make music that makes him proud.”
With this goal, however, come some daunting moments.
“For over 50 years, Don has mentored many, many graduate conducting students…of which I am one,” says Sutton. “His impact in the field of choral music is monumental. And it is an equally monumental responsibility, as well as a great honor, to carry on Don’s legacy as I stand on his shoulders.”
Adds Sutton, “They say Brahms was afraid to tackle a symphony because he ‘followed’ Beethoven. I know just how he felt.”
Tickets for The Faith of Beethoven are available for $20 to $40/person. Call 818.591.1735 to purchase tickets or visit www.angeleschorale.org.
Royce Hall is located at 340 Royce Drive on the campus of UCLA, 90095.
The Angeles Chorale thanks the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the LA Department of Cultural Affairs for their help in supporting this performance.
ABOUT DON NEUEN, Resident Guest Conductor
Described as “an enormously gifted conductor [who] brings to mind Robert Shaw” and by Robert Shaw, himself, as “the best in the country,” Donald Neuen currently serves as Resident Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles based Angeles Chorale and as Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, where he received UCLA’s prestigious award of “Distinguished Professorship” in 2013. Neuen also conducts the internationally televised Hour of Power Choir, viewed by millions throughout the world each week.
Past positions have included serving on the faculties of the Eastman School of Music,
the University of Wisconsin, University of Tennessee, Ball State, and Georgia State University, where Neuen was Director of both Choral and Orchestral Activities.
Additionally, beginning in 1970, Neuen joined ranks with renowned conductor Robert Shaw to create the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. The collaboration between the two men began years earlier, in 1959, while Neuen was a member of the world famous Robert Shaw Chorale. Other mentors/teachers include choral conductor Roger Wagner and musicologists Julius Herford, Alfred Mann, Karl Geiringer, Lara Hoggard, and Patrick Macy.
Internationally recognized for the presentation of major extended works for chorus, soloists, and orchestra, Neuen has conducted professional orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, and Mexico as well as the Russian Chamber Orchestra Kremlin during its US Tour. He has also appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
Neuen’s publications include a widely used textbook on choral techniques, methods and conducting entitled Choral Concepts, a seven-set Choral Excellence Series featuring videos and DVDs of Neuen’s conducting, choral techniques, and teaching methods, and a recently revised booklet for singers, Empower the Choir! Concepts for Singers.
Born in the small, enormously musical, Swiss-Mennonite community of Berne, Indiana, Neuen has received the Indiana governor’s highest award granted to a citizen – the Sagamore of the Wabash – for “outstanding contribution to society through quality choral music in schools, universities, churches and communities throughout the nation.”
ABOUT THE CHORALE
The Angeles Chorale is a 100-voice, auditioned, professional-level, volunteer choir rehearsing and performing in the Los Angeles area.
Our mission is to perform world- class music – from classical masterworks to groundbreaking new commissions – that will enrich the lives of the diverse community of music lovers who call Southern California home.
The Chorale was founded in 1975 by Bill and Ada Beth Lee, who led the organization until 1987 when John Alexander assumed the mantle of Artistic Director. In 1996, Donald Neuen, Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, stepped to the podium and led the Chorale for the next thirteen years. Under his direction, the Angeles Chorale became best known for its productions of classical masterworks for chorus and orchestra. The 2013-2014 concert season, the Chorale’s 39th season and the fourth under the direction of Dr. John Sutton, celebrates three of the world’s great composers: Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven.
The Angeles Chorale has performed with many local orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and the American Youth Symphony.
The Chorale appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2012 under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel as he conducted Mahler’s 8th Symphony, the Symphony of a Thousand, at the Shrine Auditorium. That season, the Angeles Chorale also was honored to perform with Barbra Streisand at the Hollywood Bowl and with Julie Andrews at the annual Holiday Sing-Along at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, part of the LA Philharmonic’s “Deck the Halls” concert series. The Chorale will again perform with Julie Andrews and the LA Philharmonic at a Holiday Sing-Along at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on December 21 and December 22, 2013.
For the past five years, the Angeles Chorale has worked with Immediate Music, one of the largest leasing libraries for movie previews and television commercials. Chorale voices can be heard in many Hollywood movie trailers, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Tangled, Meet the Parents: Little Fockers, and Prince of Persia.
Presenter / Producer: Angeles Chorale
Music > Choral/Choirs
Event Phone: 818-591-1735
Royce Hall at UCLA
340 Royce Drive
Los Angeles CA 90095
LA - Hollywood / Westside
Performance Dates: 6/7/2014
$20 to $40/person
Call 818.591.1735 or visit www.angeleschorale.org to purchase tickets
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