The choir then travels to southern California for eight more concerts before returning to campus to present its annual home concert at 8 p.m., Friday, March 14, in Weaver Chapel. In addition, an interim concert will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Dublin, Ohio.
Under the direction of Donald Busarow, professor of music and university organist, the choir will present a program of works representing 400 years of choral literature, including works sung in German, Russian and Latin.
"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 being performed along with the Masters."
Busarow's mother was born in Russia and his father in Lithuania. With this background he has developed a special interest in Russian Orthodox music. Two Russian works of Rachmaninoff will be included in the program, while the major work of the concert is J.S. Bach's motet, "Singet dem Herrn" ("Sing to the Lord a New Song"), considered the most outstanding of his six motets.
"The last time we did ‘Singet dem Herrn' was eight years ago," Busarow said. "It's a lengthy piece — 25 minutes. It's a very challenging piece."
The choir will also perform "The Dream Isaiah Saw" by Glenn Rudolph (2002) on a poem by Thomas Troeger in memory of those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001. The concert will open with a setting of "The Star-Spangled Banner," arranged by Donald Busarow.
He has directed the 78-year-old choir for 26 years. Robert White, director of church relations, choir alumni Hannah Auxter, class of 2006, and Brad Hall, class of 2004, will travel with the choir this year. Hall will act as accompanist for the group.
Busarow's original plan for this year's tour was a trip to Florida, but third-year Wittenberg choir member, Rebecca Ajer, class of 2009 from Spring Valley, Calif., convinced him otherwise.
"She's always been after me," Busarow said. "When are we going to come to her home? She wanted us to come to her church."
Ten of the 54 members of the choir have been with the choir throughout their four years at Wittenberg, a remarkable achievement. Earning a position in the choir for one year is no guarantee of a permanent position. Annual auditions are held, and members are selected on the basis of voice quality, vocal range and music skills.
The choir is composed of students from a wide variety of majors and disciplines. Every academic department on campus is represented in the choir. Performing with the choir is more than simply an activity for the students.
"Choir is a place where we can be with others who appreciate and love music," said Kate Hubert, class of 2008 from Louisville, Ky. "When we come to an understanding of what's going on a piece of music, the result can be the most beautiful expression."
The choir has performed throughout the United States and has even travelled internationally in the past. Busarow takes pride in rigorous preparations that allow the choir to perform at its very best, as it did in November 2007 at historic Severance Hall in Cleveland.
"The choir spends six months in intensive practices and study," Busarow said. "By that time they are ready to move. They're ready to get out of the building and let the people hear them."
The choir also serves as a recruitment tool for the university. White makes a presentation about Wittenberg during intermission at each concert. He and Auxter will set up a display of admission materials and are available to discuss information about the school with concert-goers.
In addition, all alumni who live within 50 miles of the venues receive special invitations to the concerts and subsequent receptions.
"The members of the choir are tremendous ambassadors for the university," White said. "Wherever they go, they represent Wittenberg at its best."
Written By: Christi Lue '09
Photo By: Robbie Gantt
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