JSU A Cappella Choir

The JSU A Capella Choir

Submitted photo

Sunday at 3 p.m. at Anniston’s Church of St. Michael and All Angels, the Jacksonville State University A Cappella Choir will present its winter concert. The featured work on this concert will be Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” along with other smaller works. The JSU Chamber Singers will also present several selections.

This is Vivaldi’s most famous choral piece, according to texts. He composed “Gloria” in Venice, probably in 1715, for a girls orphanage choir. The orphanage, Ospedale, prided itself on the quality of its musical education, primarily due to Vivaldi, who was a priest, music teacher and virtuoso violinist. “Gloria” has a sunny nature and distinctive rhythms and melodies, giving it universal appeal, according to “Discovering Music” by Howard McKinney.  

“Musical settings of the ‘Gloria’ portion of the Mass ordinarily are popular during the holiday season due the opening words, ‘Glory to God in the highest,’” said Patricia Corbin, director of the choir. “These are words that the angels sang when the birth of Christ was announced to shepherds in Luke 2:14.”

The A Cappella Choir will also be singing “Go where I send thee” by Uzee Brown and “Ave Maria” by Frank Biebl. The chamber singers will be singing “Ubi Caritas” by Ola Gielo and “The Bells at Speyer” by Ludwig Senfl.

Rachel Park, JSU visiting assistant professor of piano, is the choir’s accompanist. Christopher Henley, organist of First United Methodist Church of Anniston, will be the guest organist.

Benefit concert for Southern Opera Theatre

If a man is known by his musical friends, tenor Tim Ballard must be highly regarded in opera and musical theater circles.

Ballard will give a recital at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville on Friday at 7 p.m. Entitled “A Little Night Music,” it should be as enjoyable to listen to as Mozart’s lively piece with the same title, written for an outdoor soiree.

The recital’s subtitle is “Tim Ballard and Friends.” Assisted by pianists LornaLee “Rocket” Curtis and Jeremy Benson, baritone Nathan Wight, soprano Kelli Lyn Dodd and Ballard’s student Bobby Browning, the recital showcases compositions from musical theater, sacred music, opera and country music. Although there will be no charge for the event, donations to the Southern Opera Theatre Company, for which Ballard is artistic director, will be appreciated. The company is based in the Anniston-Carrollton, Ga. area.

Ballard, a native Annistonian, now lives in Bowden, Ga. While his musical roots are in gospel and country music, his passion for opera was fostered by Richard Armstong, who taught at Jacksonville State University and is now choirmaster at Saint Luke’s. Ballard earned a bachelor of music from JSU and a doctorate of musical arts and music history from the Catholic University of America, with post-graduate work at Florida State University.

Here are several songs on the recital program:

• From the opera category, Ballard will sing “Amor Ti Vieta” (from “Fedora” by Umberto Giordano). The well-known aria’s title translates to “Love forbids you not to love.”

• From Puccini’s opera “La Boheme,” Ballard and Wight will perform the duet “O Mimi tu piu non torni.” Puccini’s operatic formulas focused on intense human emotion within exotic locations. Scenes from this opera are set in a Parisian attic and café.  

• From musical theater, Ballard will sing “Willkommen” (“Welcome”) from “Cabaret,” “Younger Than Springtime” from “South Pacific” and “Almost Like Being in Love” from “Brigadoon.”

• From the country music stage, the choices are “Coat of Many Colors,” recorded in 1971 by Dolly Parton, and “If You Knew My Story” from the Broadway musical “Bright Star,” which is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in 1945-46. In this, newspaper editor Alice Murphy speaks of setting aside other writers’ copy for a moment so she can tell her own story. Both songs will be sung by Dodd.

• Ballard will sing “The Blue Mountain Ballads,” traditional Southern songs that are uniquely Southern, tragic, bittersweet and comical all at once. These are poems by Tennessee Williams who was friend and mentor to composer Paul Bowles.

Saint Luke’s is located at 400 Chinnabee Ave. S.E. in Jacksonville. A reception will follow for everyone in attendance at Summer Dreams, a bed and breakfast owned by Rocket and Ed Sellers. It is located at 834 Maple Lane, between Jacksonville and Piedmont.

Holiday organ concert on Friday

Also on Friday evening, Chris Henley, organist at Anniston’s First United Methodist Church, will present a recital of seasonal organ music at 7 p.m. with selections for Thanksgiving, All Saint’s, Advent and Christmas. It is offered as part of the church’s Soli Deo Gloria concert series.

“While some of the pieces will be lighter fare, others are quite complex and substantial,” Henley said.

• “Apparition de E’glise Eternelle” (“The Vision of the Eternal Church”) by French composer Olivier Messiaen provides the listener with a sonic kaleidoscope, according to Henley. The piece begins at a moderate volume and eventually opens up to full organ, eventually closing with the softest stops on the organ. The work has been described as an aural depiction of Dante’s “Inferno,” said Henley.

“I learned Messiaen’s work in college but I have never performed it in public. It is truly an experience to hear the piece; it is even more powerful to play it,” the organist said. “By contrast, some works in the program, such as French composer Louis-Claude Daquin’s ‘Noël Ètranger’ are light and tuneful.” 

There will also be opportunities to sing a few carols, with an organ setting to follow.

“It is my hope that this recital offers a little of something for everyone,” Henley added.