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Destination: Carnegie Hall

When more than 60 vocalists from Duluth walk into Carnegie Hall in New York City May 7, they won't be looking for their seats in the audience. Instead, members of UMD's University Singers and the Arrowhead Chorale will be coming in the backdoor, ...

When more than 60 vocalists from Duluth walk into Carnegie Hall in New York City May 7, they won't be looking for their seats in the audience.
Instead, members of UMD's University Singers and the Arrowhead Chorale will be coming in the backdoor, backstage, preparing for their first performance ever at one of the premiere concert halls in the world.
It's an extraordinary opportunity for these two groups of talented singers from Duluth.
"It's a fabulous hall, one of the great concert halls in the world," said Robert Bucker, dean of the UMD School of Fine Arts, who will conduct the concert in New York. "It's an experience that no one can ever take from them and will have a real impact on their perspective of what the professional arts community is like."
But don't think you can only read about what they will sing for the nation.
You can hear it in two preview concerts this weekend. The combined groups will present two performances of Maurice Duruflé's "Requiem" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth.
The concert should be outstanding. Duruflé's music is powerful with lush harmonies permeating all sections of the work. The Arrowhead Chorale and the University Singers will also present solo performances. The singers will be accompanied by a full orchestra, including the UMD winds and organist John Vanella.
Preparing for this concert has been an experience few will forget. (See Jennifer Simonson's story, Page B1.) Hours of rehearsal time have been spent over the last few months perfecting the phrasing, the impact of the piece.
Stan Wold, director of choral activities at UMD and a professor of music, conducts both the UMD Singers and the Arrowhead Chorale and will conduct the groups at their performances in the Northland.
Duruflé's "Requiem" is a complex but beautiful piece of music, he said.
"I can remember when I was studying on the master's and doctor's level, we had to go through a lot of repertoires, chorale literature. You'd come to a certain piece and think, 'Well, this one I'll never do. This one isn't interesting," Wold said. "But (the 'Requiem') is one of those pieces that from the very first time I heard it, I thought, 'Sometime, I have to do this piece.' It's always been a dream of mine."
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What's extraordinary about the Carnegie concert is that both groups will have an opportunity for solo performances. The University Singers will open the program in New York with a 25-minute presentation.
The Duluthians will be joined on stage by two collegiate choirs from the East Coast and a chorale group for Hudson, Wis.
The concerts in the Northland should be a treat. The "Requiem" hasn't been performed in Duluth for about 15 years. This is the first time it will be sung with a full orchestra.
"We decided it would be appropriate for a cathedral sanctuary, which is why we're doing it here and in Superior," Wold said.
Organist John Vanella has played the "Requiem" many times, Wold said, even performing it in the church in France for which it was composed.
Bucker, who was the director of the education department of the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Opera Guild before coming to Duluth in 1997, has also conducted the "Requiem" in past years. "It seems like a daunting challenge, but it's very manageable," he said. "It's a very exciting piece of music."

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