Musicians merge for ‘Carmina’

The Jackson Symphony, Union University Singers, Choral Union and the University of Tennessee at Martin University Singers perform the choral work ‘Carmina Burana’ March 10 at the Carl Perkins Civic Center. | Photo submitted by Kristina Only

By Katherine Burgess, Asst. Design Editor

More than 200 voices, including 93 from Union, resounded alongside the Jackson Symphony in a collaborative performance of the scenic cantata “Carmina Burana.”

A choral work, “Carmina Burana” required many voices and an orchestra. Because of this, the Jackson Symphony combined with the Union University Singers and Choral Union as well as the University Singers from the University of Tennessee at Martin in order to put on the performance.

After about five weeks of practice with their individual choirs, the two Union choirs and the choir from UTM rehearsed together with the Jackson Symphony twice before the March 10 performance.

“I think it went very well, indeed,” said Dr. Jordan Tang, music director and conductor of the Jackson Symphony. “There was good, solid sound. The overall dramatic effect was present. The continuity was kept. The diction was admirable despite it being in foreign tongues. And the intensity of the work was maintained throughout. Really a wonderful, bravo presentation.”

The audience agreed, saying they enjoyed the performance.

“I thought that ‘Carmina’ was powerful and moving, and I was also surprised at the degree to which I could follow a certain kind of story that was being told through the various pieces and sequences they went through,” said Dr. Scott Huelin, associate professor of English and director of the Honors Community. “(My students) were clearly having a good time singing, and the delight on their faces helped me to delight in the music that they were performing.”

After the intense practices, fast-paced learning and complexity of having multiple choirs and a symphony, those singing in the choirs left saying they had a sense of accomplishment.

“(I now have) better friendships with some of my friends in the choir and people I met, even from UTM,” said Rebecca Leon, freshman psychology major and member of Choral Union. “And then just the memory of being there with all the voices, all the different instruments, professional soloists and the director was amazing. So to be in that, instead of out in the audience like I’ve been so many other times, was crazy.”

Dr. Christopher Mathews, associate professor of music and department chair, said the students he had spoken with seemed to have greatly enjoyed performing “Carmina Burana.”

“I think they understand the rarity of doing something of this nature,” Mathews said. “‘Carmina Burana’ is not performed often, and being a part of a choir that gets the opportunity to perform with a full orchestra and that many singers — there’s only a handful of times that happens for most of us, and so this may be the only opportunity they ever have to perform ‘Carmina.’”

A 1936 choral work written in Latin, Middle High German and French by German composer Carl Orff, “Carmina Burana” is made up of 24 movements. It requires a full choir and orchestra as well as baritone, soprano and tenor soloists.

“It’s a really intense piece, musically, harmonically — it’s very intense,” Leon said. “It has a lot of changes, so it will be very smooth and then it will be very, very — almost discordant. And then it will be very quiet, then very loud. So it’s a piece full of variety. “

Mathews said that despite the challenges of four groups coming together in one weekend for a performance after all having practiced separately, the performance was a success.

“This is what we live for, when you’re a musician,” Mathews said. “You live for those opportunities when you get together in collaborative effort with other professionals and you make music together.”

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream
About Katherine Burgess 70 Articles
Katherine Burgess, a class of 2015 journalism alumna, is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Cardinal & Cream. Her journalism has taken her from a United Nations Tribunal to the largest maximum security prison in the United States to Capitol Hill. She is now the Education Reporter for the Jackson Sun. Follow her on Twitter @kathsburgess