November 11, 2010
Students (from left) Claire Lewis, Brian Fancher, Kevin Silver, Bryana Harry, and Madison Culver, rehearse for The College of Wooster's production of "A Gift of Song."
WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster’s Departments of Music and Theater, in collaboration with Wayne Center for the Arts and Tri-County Educational Service Center (ESC), will present "A Gift of Song” an opera for children and families by Mary Elizabeth Caldwell based on the life of Franz Grüber, the composer of “Silent Night.” The production, which includes seven soloists and a children’s chorus, will have two performances on Tuesday, Dec. 7, in McGaw Chapel (340 E. University St.). Area sixth-grade students will attend the performance at 9:45 a.m. as part of a countywide field trip. The general public (including elementary school students) is invited to the 7 p.m. production that evening. Directed by Carrie deLapp Culver, associate professor of music at Wooster, the opera will feature costumes by Charlene Gross and sets by Jody Tidwell.
For more than 22 years, Tri-County ESC has provided an annual production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” presented by the Canton Symphony Orchestra for an estimated 1,000 area sixth grade
students with the primary goal of introducing them to a new art form and vocabulary (opera/musical theater) through a live performance.
This past spring, the symphony announced the elimination of the popular “Amahl,” according to Gary DeVault, Fine Arts Consultant at Tri-County ESC. “I was not content to lose this important educational experience for our students, so I began to inquire with our music teachers, children’s
chorus directors, music faculty at The College of Wooster, and our partners at Wayne Center for the Arts about how we might remedy this situation,” he said. “I was pleased to learn that Dr. Culver had extensive training and experience with children’s opera and had completed her doctoral dissertation on composer Mary Caldwell, who wrote three operas for children including “A Gift of Song.”
“A Gift of Song” premiered 50 years ago and is based on one of the world’s most recognized pieces of music. Although elaborate in its musical and theatrical demands, the production promises to create a magical presentation, according to DeVault, who added that the story is based on facts surrounding the writing and discovery of the tune “Silent Night” and the family of the composer, Franz Grüber.
Senior soprano Jackie Komos (Macedonia) has been cast as Karl Franz. Known as a "trouser role," the boy’s part is traditionally sung by a soprano in the adult operatic tradition. Other principal players include senior soprano Jen Barnes (Conroe, Texas) as Annalisa Grüber; sophomore baritone Ted Day (Lexington, Mass) as Papa Grüber; senior mezzo soprano Eva Hendrix-Shovlin (San Bernardino, Calif.) as Mama Grüber; sophomore tenor Brian Fancher (Rocky River) as Choirmaster Wilhelm of St. Peter’s Monastery; sophomore baritone Kevin Silver (Akron) as Herr Schallplatz, musical ambassador from the King of Prussia; and senior soprano Claire Lewis (Western Springs, Ill.) as Rudi, a choirboy at St. Peter’s Monastery. Singers from the Wayne Center for the Arts Bel Canto Chorus,
directed by Toni Arnold-Shreve and Elizabeth Nevola, will portray the choir students at St. Peter’s School.
For further information, contact the Tri-County Educational Service Center at 330-345-6771
or The College of Wooster’s Music Department at 330-263-2419.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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