BPC Choral Society to perform cantatas Nov. 5

MOUNT VERNON -- The first performance of the Brewton-Parker College Choral Society's 2002-03 season is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 5, Choral Society Director Mark Bowdidge has announced.

The Choral Society, which is composed of 50 members that include both Brewton-Parker students and community participants, will present two cantatas beginning at 8 p.m. in Saliba Chapel on the BPC campus.

The Choral Society will perform Johann Sebastian Bach's Cantata No. 80, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," and Felix Mendelssohn's cantata on Psalm 42, "As the Hart Pants."

Admission to the concert is free.

Bach wrote more than 200 cantatas, many of which were based on familiar hymn tunes of his day. Cantata 80 is based on the well-known hymn tune "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." All the choral movements use the tune of "A Mighty Fortress" as the melody and can be easily identified by the listener.

The performance will feature Dr. Ann Villella, local soprano, performing two of the solo movements from the cantata.

"November 5 is an appropriate time to perform this work since the preceding Sunday will have been Reformation Sunday, observed by most of protestant Christianity," Bowdidge said.

Martin Luther, the leader of the reformation movement, wrote the text and arranged the tune of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." This chorale was known as the "battle hymn of the reformation."

"As the Hart Pants" is one of several psalm cantatas that Mendelssohn composed. His work based on Psalm 92 features the Choral Society and three soprano soloists: students Heather LeCompte from Tattnall County and Kim Nobles from Dublin and community member Susan Eernisse, an adjunct music instructor at Brewton-Parker.

"Mendelssohn was very important in the rediscovery of the choral music of J.S. Bach," Bowdidge said. "By Mendelssohn's time, about 100 years after Bach's death, the world had mostly forgotten the choral works of Bach.

"While Mendelssohn was a student he discovered a score of one of Bach's major choral works, the St. Matthew passion, in his professor's office. He 'borrowed' the score and got some of his friends together to sing as recreation. Mendelssohn then is recognized almost as almost single-handedly being responsible for the rediscovery of Bach's choral music."

The Choral Society's next performance will be Dec. 8, when it joins all the Brewton-Parker music ensembles in the presentation of a Service of Lessons and Carols, performing a portion of Gerald Finzi's "In Terra Pax."

The season will conclude with a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's most well-known choral work, "Requiem," on April 27.

Rehearsals are Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. in the Gilder Recital Hall of the Miller Music Building on the Brewton-Parker College campus.

Inquiries concerning the Choral Society may be directed to Bowdidge at 912-583-3132.