West Michigan Symphony November concert to feature the expansive “Carmina Burana.”

Muskegon, Michigan, Oct. 2, 2014 – Friday, Nov. 21, WMS presents a concert of heavenly and earthly delights. The theme of Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser will open the concert and the second act will feature Carmina Burana. The theme of the concert is the dichotomy between purely spiritual love and worldly desire.

The Overture from Wagner’s Tannhäuser was performed at the Symphony’s first concert 75 years ago and will be the opening number in the Nov. 21 concert. The longest operatic prelude ever written, it foreshadows the opera’s theme of the struggle between good and evil with love emerging triumphant. The first act will run a scant 1/2 hour to make room in the second half of the concert for the expansive scenic cantata, Carmina Burana.

“What better way to begin our adventurous 75th season than with one of humankind’s most divine and reverent expressions, followed by a set of scatological songs written by monks!” Said Music Director Scott Speck. “You can bring the kids, though — all the words are in Latin and Old German.”

The Muskegon Chamber Choir, Grand Rapids Chamber Choir, Holland Chorale and WMS Children’s Choir will join the Symphony and soloists for Carmina Burana, Carl Orff’s brilliant setting of profane Latin texts written by medieval monks. Featured in films such as “Excalibur” and “Natural Born Killers” the opening and closing movement of Carmina Burana, “O Fortuna” is one of the most iconic and recognizable works of the 20th century.

Divided into three parts, titled “Spring,” “In the Tavern,” and “Love,” the Nov.21 concert will feature soloists Martha Guth (soprano,) Hugh Russell (baritone,) and Christopher Pfund (tenor.) Guth, who was featured in WMS “Simple Songs” last season, is acclaimed for her ‘thrilling top range, rare breath control and an awesome legato’ (Globe and Mail), the New Orleans Times-Picayune commented baritone Hugh Russell had, “a voice that ranged from organ-deep rumbles to flute-like falsetto – and an acting style that drew roars of laughter as he captured the bullishness of an intoxicated medieval abbot.” Universally recognized for his irreverent portrayal of the dying swan, Pfund will depict the swan that once lived by the river’s side and admired for his beauty that now is “roasted black from side to side… garnished with slips of greenery.”

When asked how all of the performers will fit on the Frauenthal stage, WMS VP of Operations, Gabe Slimko said “It’s actually going to be some pretty spectacular staging,” Slimko continued, “we’re hoping to set chorus risers as high as eight levels on the stage, while the Symphony will begin at floor level, and finish with the brass section at the front of the stage, creating a stacked effect.” The first few rows of floor seating will be removed to accommodate the Symphony musicians and Music Director Scott Speck.

Carmina Burana begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Muskegon. Tickets to this concert are going fast and should be purchased ahead of time to ensure availability. Call the WMS box office at 231.726.3231 x223 to reserve or to get tickets in person go to 360 W. Western Avenue. Tickets are also available online at westmichigansymphony.org or by emailing info@westmichigansymphony.org.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, West Michigan Symphony serves a regional audience with eight annual main stage concerts, 15 concerts at The Block and dozens of educational and outreach activities. westmichigansymphony.org.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts