Juilliard pianist to perform with local voices, Durango Herald, March 14, 2008


The Durango Choral Society, the Durango Children’s Chorale and the Durango Women’s Choir will perform a multi-faceted selection of music at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Community Concert Hall. They will be accompanied by Juilliard pianist Evan Shinners.

Linda Mack, choir director, said by telephone Wednesday that the music includes recognizable pieces like Mozart’s “Requiem” and “Laudate Do-minum” and a big work, Beet-hoven’s “Hallelujah,” which has not been performed in Durango before.

The program will also include music by contemporary composers Randall Stroope, David Wilcox and Norman Dello Joio.

By some accounts, Dello Joio’s “A Jubilant Song” includes the most technically difficult piano part ever written. Shinners, 21, who was a silver medalist in the Four Corners Piano competition when he was 16, will perform that complex composition.

Shinners is a native of Denver who began playing piano at age 9 and made his orchestral debut with the Utah Symphony at age 12. In 2003, he was the only American to win a prize at the Eastman International Young Artists Competition. Shinners can be seen in the PBS documentary “Speaking with Music.” He is in his last year at the Juilliard School of Music, where he studies with Jerome Lowenthal.

Longtime Choral Society pianist Christi Livingston will join Shinners for a four-hand arrangement of Randall Stro-ope’s “Magnificent,” featuring the voices of the Durango Women’s Choir.

Mack has directed the 75-voice Choral Society and 13-voice Women’s Choir since 1999.

“I’ve seen tremendous growth in musicianship, strength and loyalty in these groups,” Mack said. “They have an array of talent, and there is an amazing passion for music in this community. These performances mean everything to them.”

Mack is particularly proud of the Women’s Choir for the amount of work they’ve put in to learn the contemporary compositions.

“These are very big pieces of music that would normally be programmed with a larger choir, but the musicianship of these women has grown so much that they can handle and are willing to stretch themselves to perform these wonderful pieces,” she said

Not to be outdone by the adults, the 56-voice Durango Children’s Chorale will perform selections from their upcoming tour to Denver, where they will sing for the Organization of Kodály Educators National Conference. Zoltán Kodály was a Hungarian composer who loved children and folk music, and developed a program for teaching music to children through games, dances and folk singing. Kodály’s method helps children learn to read music at an early age and is widely accepted as one of the best forms of music education.

Director Rochelle Mann is a nationally recognized Kodály method expert and teaches the method to Fort Lewis College music students who plan to become music educators.

The diverse programming scheduled for Sunday’s performances should solidify why Durango Choral Society received the Honorable Mention ASCAP Alice Parker Award for Adventurous Programming in 2007. The next time these voices will perform is this summer, with Music in the Mountains, when they will sing Verdi’s “Requiem.”

If you go

Choral Classics, 3 p.m. Sunday, Community Concert Hall, $15/$12/$5. Tickets at the CCH Box Office, 707� Main Ave. or 247-7657. Tickets also at the door.

artsjournalist@centurytel.netLeanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the arts.

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