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Choirs in S.C., N.C. and South Africa collaborate to perform Brahms masterwork

University of South Carolina choirs join forces for performances of beloved choral work

Singers from the USC Concert Choir, University Chorus, Myers Park Baptist Church (Charlotte, N.C.) and Mississippi College (Clinton, Miss.) will be joining with two South African choirs for a performance of Johannes Brahms' “Ein Deutsches Requiem” on May 16, 2014 in Soweto, South Africa. The USC and Myers Park choirs will also perform the Brahms Requiem on April 15 in Columbia, S.C. and on April 27 in Charlotte, N.C.

Brahms’ German Requiem, composed between 1865 and 1868, marks a turning point in compositional technique by which the composer influenced the entire world of music with its high level of craftsmanship.

This performance of the highly regarded choral work, under the direction of Dr. Alicia W. Walker, will feature University of South Carolina School of Music faculty Tina Milhorn Stallard, soprano, and Jacob Will, baritone, as soloists and will be sung in German.

Jonathan Crutchfield and Carol Joy Sparkman, collaborative pianists, will play the accompaniment for four-hand piano, which was written by Brahms and reflects what he found vital in the orchestral score, as well as his genius in writing for the piano.

“The choral art is a quintessential example of human beings in community: everyone brings their best, but all must remain aware of the need to balance their own abilities with those of others so that the greater good is accomplished. This collaboration between artists is one of the great joys of music-making, and the Brahms Requiem is a wonderful vehicle through which to experience that joy.” – Dr. Alicia Walker

At the time of its composition it was unusual to perform a requiem in the vernacular, but Brahms assembled the libretto himself in contrast to the traditional Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, which employs a standardized text in Latin. The text is derived from the German Lutheran Bible. Although the Requiem Mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy begins with prayers for the dead ("Grant them eternal rest, O Lord"), “Ein Deutsches Requiem” focuses on the living, beginning with the text "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."

Tuesday, April 15, 7:30 p.m. – FREE, donations accepted
University Chorus, USC Concert Choir, Myers Park Baptist Church Choir
Shandon United Methodist Church, 3407 Devine St., Columbia, SC
USC University Chorus, Alicia W. Walker, director
USC Concert Choir, Larry D. Wyatt, director
Myers Park Baptist Church Chancel Choir, Jonathan Crutchfield, director

Sunday, April 27, 6:00 p.m. – FREE, donations accepted
University Chorus, USC Concert Choir, Myers Park Baptist Church Choir
Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207-2582

Dr. Alicia W. Walker is associate director of choral studies at the University of South Carolina, where she directs the University Chorus and the USC Men’s Chorus. She teaches undergraduate conducting and choral methods and graduate-level courses in sacred music and music education. Dr. Walker is president-elect of Southern Division American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), having previously served as president of Georgia ACDA. She was a 2012 Teaching Fellow in USC’s Center for Teaching Excellence in the area of service-learning. Recently, Dr. Walker has taught and conducted in St. Lucia and South Africa.

Tina Milhorn Stallard, soprano, is associate professor of voice at the University of South Carolina. Active as a concert artist, she has performed solos in works such as Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” Haydn’s “The Creation,” Bach’s “St. John Passion,” Poulenc’s “Gloria” and Handel’s “Messiah.” She made her Lincoln Center debut in 2011 as soprano soloist in Timothy Powell’s “Incarnation Mysteria.” As part of the cultural prelude to the 2008 Summer Olympics, Stallard performed the soprano solos in Vivaldi’s “Gloria” with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and members of the Beijing National Ballet Orchestra.  

Bass-baritone Jacob Will is associate professor of voice at the University of South Carolina. He made his New York Philharmonic debut as soloist in the American premiere of the “Messa per Rossini,” a performance televised live nationwide. He has appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Vladamir Ashkenazy and with the Cabrillo Festival under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. He has sung with the San Francisco Symphony, the International Bach Festival of Schaffhausen, Switzerland and the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra. He has sung for many years with the Zürich Opera as well as the New York City Opera, Vancouver Opera, the Bavarian State Opera and the San Francisco Opera.

Dr. Jonathan E. Crutchfield leads the Music Ministry of Myers Park Baptist Church. A published choral and organ composer, he has taught on the music faculties at Southern Wesleyan University, The University of Alabama at Huntsville, and Indiana University, Southeast. Dr. Crutchfield has provided piano accompaniment throughout the world and has accompanied choirs at the regional and national levels of the American Choral Directors Association. He has been heard on the British Broadcasting Corporation as service organist for the International Church Music Festival (Bern, Switzerland).

Carol Joy Sparkman has been a member of the Mississippi College music faculty since 1987 as a teacher of language diction, vocal coach/accompanist, director of the vocal jazz ensemble, Mixed Company, and musical director for The Mississippi College Opera/Musical Theater. Sparkman is known throughout the U.S. as a premier collaborative artist. She has accompanied students and faculty in workshops with Leontyne Price, Richard Miller, Karen Peeler and Thomas Hampson, and has served as a coach with Mississippi Opera.