Under the direction of Donald A. Busarow, professor of music and university organist, and accompanied by Chris Durrenberger, associate professor of music, the tour includes stops in New Jersey and New York at churches where many suffered losses in the attacks on the World Trade Center. On the six-month anniversary of the attacks, the choir sang the national anthem at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and Busarow has included The Dream Isaiah Saw, scored by Glenn L. Rudolph (2001), on a poem by Thomas Troeger in memory of those who perished on September 11, 2001.
“Our concert programs are unique, in my opinion,” Busarow said. “I look for some piece for everyone, and I look for unusual compositions that are worthy of performing along with the ‘Masters’.”
Each year the choir performs one of J.S. Bach’s six motets, which are lengthy, challenging works, and this year the choir will sing Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden in German. To commemorate the 250 th anniversary of the birth of Mozart, the choir will sing Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus in Latin, and two pieces from Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil will be sung in Russian.
“My father came from Lithuania,” Busarow said. “Works from Russia have personal significance and meaning for me.”
As with each concert, this year’s program includes works from the 16th century to contemporary music. It will also offer two African pieces, one Zulu folk song, a Zimbabwe greeting, and two of Busarow’s compositions Commit Thy Way Unto the Lord and The Best of Rooms.
Busarow has directed the choir for 24 years of it 76-year history.
Thirteen members have been with the choir throughout their four years at Wittenberg, which is a difficult achievement. Earning a position in the choir for one year is no guarantee of a permanent position. Annual auditions are held, and selections are based on voice quality, ability to sing in tune and ability to read music, among other qualifications. The choir, made up of student performers from a wide variety of majors and disciplines, represents every academic department on campus.
Performing with the choir is more than just an activity for most of the students. A recent poll of members showed that more than 20 students said that their participation in the choir was the primary reason they stayed at Wittenberg.
“It’s like a family,” Hannah Auxter, class of 2006 from Clyde, Ohio, said. “Even when things were the hardest, I knew I was not alone. I’ve met so many wonderful people and made so many lifelong friends.”
Members will have an opportunity to visit well-known destinations of their choice during a one-day stop in Philadelphia and a day and a half each in Boston and New York.
The choir is one of the most traveled college choral groups in the world, having earned rave reviews from critics across the United States and in Canada, Latin America, Europe and Russia.
Alumni presence at performances is high, and this year an alumni reception will be held prior to the Saturday, March 4, concert at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ardmore, Pa.
The choir also serves as a recruitment tool for the university. Director of Church Relations Robert White makes a presentation about Wittenberg during the intermission at each concert. White and Associate Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students Carolyn Perkins will set up a display of admission materials and be available to discuss the university.
“The members of the choir are tremendous ambassadors for the university,” White said. “Wherever they go, they represent Wittenberg at its best.”
- Phyllis Eberts
• Wittenberg Department of Music
• Wittenberg Choir Tour Schedule
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