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Arrowhead Chorale closes season with four-hand piano, new venue

Mother and daughter pianists Pam Sohriakoff and Sharalee Jannsen will be featured in the Arrowhead Chorale's spring concert "A Mass & Four Hands" performed this weekend.

Mother and daughter pianists Pam Sohriakoff and Sharalee Jannsen will be featured in the Arrowhead Chorale's spring concert "A Mass & Four Hands" performed this weekend.

The entire concert will be played four-hand, although that was not the original plan. All of the pieces ended up having parts for four-hand piano.

Stanley Wold, artistic director and conductor of the Arrowhead Chorale and director of choral activities at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), said that four-hands is sometimes mistaken to mean two pianists at two pianos. It actually means two pianists playing one grand piano.

Sohriakoff and Jannsen performed a piano four-hands concert at UMD earlier in the year. "It was very well received and they just did a wonderful job," said Wold. Jannsen has been the piano accompanist with the Arrowhead Chorale since September. She is in her junior year as a piano performance major at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and she started playing piano at age five with lessons from her mother.

Sohriakoff received her undergraduate degree in piano performance at UWS in 2001 and will graduate this spring with a master of music in piano performance from UMD. Jannsen plans to also begin graduate studies after receiving her undergraduate degree.

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The Arrowhead Chorale had been practicing with only Jannsen's accompaniment during rehearsals until last Sunday when Sohriakoff joined them.

At the beginning of the season there were plans to have the spring concert feature Jewish repertoire with concerts at synagogues in the Twin Cities. This concert has been postponed until February next year.

The spring concert will begin with Mass No. 2 by 20th century Hungarian composer Gyorgy Orban.

"I wanted to do a piece by him," Wold said. It turned out that the piece was somewhat different than he had thought and it called for a small group of instruments, but with a few modifications and work with the pianists it fit the four-hands piano theme.

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The second half of the concert includes Liebeslieder Walzes, Op. 52 by Johannes Brahms. Wold said that it will be recognized by people who listen to choral music.

The piece is made up of 18 short settings of waltzes that originally came from different countries. Brahms put them together not in any particular order.

Wold also planned to incorporate some songs in English, and he found the three Scottish folk songs, arranged by Mack Wilberg, that called for piano four-hands. Two of the songs are upbeat. "I think some of the tunes will be familiar to the audience," he said. The three songs are "'O Whistle and I'll Come to Yee," "My Love's in Germany" and "I'll Ay Call In By Yon Town."

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The concert is a mix of some familiar songs and some people may not have heard before. "Many people will have heard the Brahms before, but the Orban will be completely new to people," Wold said.

The concert will also be performed at a venue new to the chorale: Holy Family Catholic Church in Lincoln Park. "It is a beautiful space that is wide and deep, and they have a beautiful piano there," Wold said. "We're looking forward to this venue that is new to us."

The Arrowhead Chorale has also been invited to join the Duluth Superior Symphony Chorus next weekend. "It's been a busy time preparing for two concerts," Wold said.

"It's been pretty hectic," said Heidi Lyle, chorale coordinator. "We're really excited to work with the DSSO." She said that in rehearsals they have been practicing a little for each concert.

They will perform with the DSSO for its last concert in the series "The 7 Deadly Sins in 7 Lively Concerts" with the theme "Wrath & Brotherhood." That concert will be performed at the DECC Saturday, May 22 at 8 p.m.

Lyle said that the chorale will perform a somewhat controversial piece, "They Lynched Him on a Tree" by composer William Grant Still, with the chorus from the DSSO. The Arrowhead Chorale will perform the part usually sung by a white choir and the DSSO chorus will perform the part for an African American choir.

Arrowhead Chorale's spring concert "A Mass & Four Hands" will be performed Friday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. at Thorpe Langley Auditorium on the UWS campus in Superior, Saturday, May 15, at 8 p.m. at Weber Music Hall at UMD, and Sunday, May 16, at 3 p.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church, 2430 W. Third St. Tickets are available at the door. The cost is $12 for adults and $6 for students.

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