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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Songs of Healing and Hope’ radiant in De Pere

Critic At Large

The Dudley Birder Chorale of St. Norbert College + orchestra

Concert programs. (Warren Gerds)

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – After months of torque and turmoil… “Songs of Healing and Hope.”

   A full, comforting chorus.

   An orchestra every bit in step with an aura of peace and release.

   Music essentially being introduced in a concert with traditions.

   Wonderful sounds, even though the singers sang masked for COVID-19 reasons.

   Soulfulness.

The concert was presented Saturday afternoon by The Dudley Birder Chorale of St. Norbert College and a 13-member orchestra in the college’s Walter Theatre.

In past years, the chorale called this concert its All Saints Day Concert, traditionally leading into Halloween and always closing with the song, “For All the Saints.” Essentially, Saturday’s concert held the same intent of bringing hallowed into Halloween.

One could not but contemplate during the program.

All the music says, “Stop and reflect.”

Artistic director Kent Paulsen’s selections were primarily contemporary and entirely meaningful.

Narrator Sandra Walden carefully set the scene for each – variations on a Biblical theme: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,” though with specific thoughtful fibers found in a requiem.

The chorus was in great form, likewise the orchestra.

The pinnacle was “Requiem for the Living” by Dan Forrest. Delicate moments grew to power. Soloists shone in gentle and earnest hues. The choir and orchestra unleashed massed firepower. This a wow work, not from ages ago but 2013.

Included in the program are names of 63 persons who died in the past two years who hold meaning to the people on stage. The singers and musicians performed at such a level as if they were saying, “This is for you.”

***

Program: “Songs of Healing and Hope”

Creative: Artistic director – Kent Paulsen; assistant director/accompanist – Elaine Moss; administrative assistant – Josh Fields; artistic director emeritus – Dudley Birder

Kent Paulsen, conductor

Sandra Walden, narrator

+ “He, Watching Over Israel” – Felix Mendelssohn, with text from “Elijah”

+ “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” – Laura Farnell, with text by Mary Elizabeth Frye

+ Moment of silence in honor of chorale family and friends who died in the past two years

+ “Nunc Dimittis” – Robert Scholz

+ “You Do Not Walk Alone” – Elaine Hagenberg, with text from traditional Irish blessing

+ “Requiem for the Living” – Dan Forrest

   Introit-Kyrie

   Vanitas Vanitatum

   Agnus Dei

       Linda Feldmann, mezzo-soprano

   Sanctus

   Lux Aeterna

      Linda Feldmann, mezzo-soprano

      Jacob Chastain, tenor

+ “Hope for Resolution (A Song for Mandela and de Klerk)” – arranged by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory

   “Thula sizwe,” a South African freedom song sung in Zulu

***

Choir members

Soprano: Amanda Rose Gillespie-Abegglen, Jenna Benjamin, Elizabeth Brefka, Janice Butz, Jenna Cornell, Angie Danowski, Judith Dauska, Eva Finke, Jerilyn J. Fletcher, Annette L. Gajeski, Ann Garrett, Marissa Helchen, Marilee Janh, Lynn Jung, Kimberly AM Laabs, Nancy Lambert, Elizabeth Murphy, Gail C. Orchard, Sue Parker, Judy Patefield, Carolyn Petersen, Janet Peterson, Haley Pritzl, Emily Rosenfeldt, Birgit Ruotsala, Karin Sands, Linda Sanner, Teresa L. Schmidt, Heidi A. Schmitz, Madeline Schneider, Lee Ann Scovell, Grace Sehring, Angela K. Terrien, Angela Vandermause, Andrea Waschbisch, Katrina Welborn, Laura Wiedenfeld, Christine Wilke, Karen M. Wochos, Jan Zvara

Alto: Kay Adams, Yulia Barstow, Jodi Beno, Brenda Brayko, Joanne Bublitz, Amy Ashwood Cecchinato, Marsan Day, Roseann M. Dichraff, Myrna Dickinson, Susan Elliott, Linda Feldmann, Jeni Funk, Cathy Geimer, Linda Grzeca, April Strom-Johnson, Nancy Kusch, Arlene Marker, Becky Merchak, Casey Niesen, Emily Terrell Paulsen, Lauren Pritzl, Regina Reale, Lyn Rotter, Laura Sager, Laurie Sewall, Julie Sipiorski, Sharon Stodola Eslien, Stacey Swaer, Barbara Vitchus, Judy Ward, Kay Waugh, Mary Young

Tenor: Barbara Basche, Lyle A. Becker, Brent Brayko, Jake Chastain, Joshua Errer, Wayne Garman, Aaron Hitz, Bill Jones, John Krueger, John Lemke, David L. Orchard, Robert Richter, Jim Ruotsala, Tom Schumacher, Ted Van Egeren

Bass: Brian Brooks, Doug Brown, Joseph M. Chojnacki, William M. Dichraff, Warren Elliott, Mark Feldmann, George Freeman, Bruce Glassco, Paul Grall, Charles Hagen, Tom Hamilton, Sergio Heredia, Franz Igler, Nathan Jaschob, James Marker, Bruce McLeod, Robert Murphy, H. Jeffrey Rafn, Jim Sanders, William Sands, Norman J. Schroeder, Clark Steinhardt, Alex Stensaas, Richard J. Suslik, Eric Torkelson, Robert Tuszynski

Orchestra

Violin – Yulia Smead, Luis Fernandez, Audrey Nowak, Jill Sousek; cello – Nancy Kaphaem, Wendy Scattergood, Michael Dewhirst; flute – Kortney James; oboe – Jennifer Bryan; horn – Andrew Parks; percussion – James Robl; organ – Jeff Verkuillen; piano – Elaine Moss

***

NEXT: “Christmas with the Chorale,” Dec. 4-5, at Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Ashwaubenon.

THE VENUE: The 724-seat Byron L. Walter Theatre features a proscenium stage (flat front). Its walls are textured concrete blocks laid in a wave pattern. The ceiling includes white acoustical clouds. Seat material and carpeting are the traditional theater red. The theater is located in Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts at St. Norbert College in De Pere. It is the larger of two theaters in the building, the core of which was built in 1955. In 1989, the Walter Theatre was renovated to improve the lobby and interior aesthetic, adding seating and improving the acoustics.

THE PERSON: Byron L. Walter (1877-1954) was a businessman. He operated Green Bay Hardware, Inc. until his retirement in 1953. Walter was co-founder of Paper Converting Machine Co. and for a time served as president. After his death, the Byron L. Walter Family Trust was established, and it made possible the theater. The trust continues to make widespread contributions to community projects and institutions.

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