Willamette University choirs to perform

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerJanuary 4, 2013 

Musicians from Salem's Willamette University will perform a concert in several languages starting at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at the First Presbyterian Church in Kennewick.

The program includes such works as O Sifuni Mungu, Kalinda and Serenity, as well as songs by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Nancy King and Charlie Parker.

Wallace Long directs the University Chamber Choir, as well as the Willamette Singers. The choir is a 45-voice ensemble and the singers are a 15-member troupe of vocal jazz singers.

"O Sifuni Mungu (composed by David Maddux) is a wonderfully upbeat rhythmic piece sung in Swahili and English," Long said in an email to the Herald. "We accompany it with lots of percussion instruments and use it as a processional to take the stage."

But Swahili isn't the only language the choir tackles, Long said. Kalinda, composed by Sydney Guillaume, is sung in Creole.

"It is a secular piece that is very exciting, very fast, flashy and difficult," he said. "We use it as our program closer (because) it celebrates the Creole culture, which values the use of the drum and communal dancing."

Serenity lives up to its name, as it's slow moving and sends the listener to a peaceful place.

"Serenity is an amazing new piece for violin and choir," Long explained. "It uses the traditional Christmas Latin text O Magnum Mysterium, which is a very difficult piece that we try to make sound easy."

The choir also will perform Thula Sizwe: A Celebration of Hope. The jazz troupe will sing I'll Sing for You by King, Norwegian Wood by Lennon and McCartney, and Scrapple from the Apple by Parker.

The choir sang Thula Sizwe for Archbishop Desmond Tutu during his visit to Willamette University in 2004. The archbishop was so impressed that he invited the choir to sing in South Africa.

The melody from Thula Sizwe has its origins in the South African national anthem, Long added. The title means "Nation Do Not Cry."

"The archbishop was absolutely elated with our performance of what we now know is a very special piece, and he invited us to go to South Africa on the spot," Long recalled. "We toured the country for 10 days and sang our last concert in the archbishop's home church in Capetown."

The Tri-City concert also features performances by the Chiawana High School choir under the direction of JoLyn Glenn and the Walla Walla High School choir, directed by Norbert Rossi.

Admission is free, but donations are welcome. The church is at 2001 W. Kennewick Ave.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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