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From Carnegie Hall to Catawba: Home Concert Featuring Mendelssohn's "Elijah"

March 20, 2009

Category: Events, Music


The Catawba SingersStill Pumped from Performance at Carnegie Hall, Catawba College to Offer Home Concert Featuring Mendelssohn's "Elijah"

Catawba College students felt like rock stars, Music Professor Paul E. Oakley said, as they sang the last measures of Felix Mendelssohn's "Elijah" in Carnegie Hall with the New York City Chamber Orchestra and Catawba faculty soloists. "The large crowd in attendance leapt to their feet screaming, 'Bravo,' an uncommon, yet welcomed response that only a New York audience can give," Oakley added.

The Catawba Singers opened the Carnegie Hall concert on Sunday, March 8th  with a solo performance of several pieces to celebrate the appointment of Dr. W. Craig Turner as the new president and Dr. Richard "Rick" Stephens Jr. as the new provost at Catawba. The musical selections ranged from 17th century to contemporary music, including a much-acclaimed performance of the spiritual "Battle of Jericho."

The Catawba Singers joined with four other choirs from New Jersey, California (two choirs) and Connecticut and the world-class New York City Chamber Orchestra for the March 8th performance. They were conducted by Oakley.

"I am a person with high expectations and the Catawba students exceeded my expectations in their performance and personal behavior while in New York. Our local audience at the March 29th home concert will be wowed and amazed by our students," Oakley said.

Members of Salisbury-Rowan community will have their own chance to experience these same musical selections performed in Catawba's Omwake-Dearborn Chapel at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 29th. Local community members, however, will have a distinct advantage over the New York audience members who paid $80 per ticket to attend the March 8th performance in the Big Apple; the local, March 29th performance is FREE of charge.

Community members who attend will hear the Catawba Singers and the Catawba Madrigals sing a variety of music. The Catawba Chorale will be joined by Catawba's faculty voice quartet, including Christina Pier, soprano; Professor Scott MacLeod, baritone; Professor Martha Bartz, mezzo-soprano; and Professor Daniel Stein, tenor; in a concert performance of selected music from Mendelssohn's great oratorio, "Elijah." 2009 marks the celebration of Mendelssohn's 200th birthday with special conferences and tribute concerts being performed all over the world. "The Catawba performance provides an opportunity for the community to celebrate the music of this genius composer through his most recognized and beloved work," Oakley explained.

Dr. Robert Hallquist will be pianist for the March 29th concert. Adam Ward will serve as organist and Dr. Barry Sang, a Catawba College professor of religion, will be the featured soloist on French horn.

turnerReflecting on the New York City performance of the Catawba College entourage, Catawba College President Dr. W. Craig Turner said, "Our students had a rare opportunity to perform in one of the world's premiere venues – and they stole the show!  Their performance was terrific and their behavior was exemplary:  They represented Catawba College in a way that would have made all the Catawba family proud."

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Upon hearing the Catawba Singers, Dr. Craig Arnold, artistic director and chair of Manhattan Concert Productions said, "The performance and presence of the Catawba College Choir at New York City's legendary Carnegie Hall was a triumph!  The choir alone opened the concert with an excellent variety of individual pieces, and then joined with other participants in the National Festival Chorus for a bold performance of movements from Felix Mendelssohn's famed oratorio, "Elijah," accompanied by the professional New York City Chamber Orchestra.  Both were under the masterful leadership of Paul E. Oakley, Director of Choral, Vocal and Sacred Music Studies, and Catawba College Organist. Also impressive was the fine solo singing by the Catawba College vocal faculty members Martha Bartz, Scott MacLeod, and Daniel Stein. This all inspired a warm reception from the hearty audience that concluded the evening with a standing ovation.

"I was particularly impressed with the earnest, committed, and compelling singing by the Catawba students.  I very much appreciated the way they handled themselves personally and musically," Arnold continued. "Catawba College can be rightfully proud of them and the outstanding leadership offered by maestro Oakley, only in his second year on the Catawba faculty. I know that we can look forward to exciting growth and musicianship from Catawba."

For more information regarding the March 29th concert, contact the Catawba College Music Department at (704) 637-4345.


Other reviews:

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"I am writing to express my appreciation for the Paul Oakley, and all the students and staff of Catawba College that participated in the most recent Carnegie Hall performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah excerpts on March 8th, 2009. Their performance of this great work was very impressive, expressive and exciting to listen to. Their professionalism and their work ethics were extraordinary and very admirable for such young musicians! I look forward to their quick and triumphant return to Carnegie Hall!"

- J. Avila
Concertmaster for all the Manhattan Concert Productions Orchestras (accompany and collaborate with visiting choirs)

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Video"The Battle of Jericho" (The Catawba Singers)


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