Frogs in the Sanctuary on Palm Sunday?

By March 16, 2016Music & Worship Arts

TCU_Concert_Chorale_GroupThe Frogs are coming to FUMCFW! Not the leaping, Ribbit-Ribbit type — the purple, Riff Ram Bah Zoo, pride of Fort Worth we all know and love. Concert Chorale is a mixed ensemble of choral singers representing Texas Christian University. On Palm Sunday, March 20, FUMCFW Music Ministries is hosting a special performance by this group of singing Horned Frogs at 2:30 pm in the Sanctuary.

Concert Chorale will perform unique choral literature under the direction of Dr. Christopher Aspaas, Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at TCU. Janet Pummill, pianist/accompanist of the TCU Concert Chorale and former organist at FUMCFW, will accompany the ensemble on the Anne S. and Henry B. Paup Sanctuary Pipe Organ during select works. The theme of the concert will incorporate dancing, singing, and/or praise into each piece. From a palm processional to poetic words in motion, this dynamic program offers something for everyone.

Christopher Aspaas, who is new to TCU and to Texas, says the group has been through many transitions and learned a lot about each other. He describes Concert Chorale as “the flagship mixed ensemble at TCU — seeking to perform the best literature for choir, and trying to transform community through vocal artistry and spirit.” Christopher recalls that when he first started working with these students, there were moments in rehearsal that were just “absolutely magical.” The ensemble performed together after only six rehearsals, and now they are putting pieces together to perform by memory. “Every rehearsal is such a unique thing, and we’ve worked together on so many great performance opportunities,” Christopher adds. “It’s very moving, we’ve learned a lot about each other, and every day holds something new.”

What’s new about Concert Chorale’s upcoming performance at FUMCFW? Christopher says this concert is exciting because it’s happening on Palm (or what some call Passion) Sunday, and some of the music is specific to this day in the church year as the important beginning of Holy Week. “There will be moments for the audience where it is very much a part of worship season,” Christopher explains, “but other pieces have a lot of variety in programming.” That’s the other thing that is unique about this concert. Although on-campus performances at TCU are special in their own way, off-campus performances at other venues (like FUMCFW) allow the students to engage people from all over the DFW community.

As Christopher puts it, “I hope to bring a model of young people seeking artistic excellence as well as creating art that is exciting for all listeners — whether they are professionals in music or just lovers of music.” He says he feels like this program is really engaging and every piece has something to offer. Whereas some choirs approach concerts with traditional music that has been around for hundreds of years, Concert Chorale will take a nontraditional approach by performing two new arrangements as premiere pieces. Plus, the theme of the concert is “Dance On! Sing Praises!” so every piece will be thematically related to dancing, singing, praises, or all of the above. “If folks are looking for something different to do on a Sunday afternoon, this is it,” Christopher declares. “There will be something — if not a lot — for everyone who comes.”

Here is a sneak peek of the program lineup, with Christopher’s take on each piece:

  • “Sing On! Dance On!” — premiere piece that is a setting of the Shaker tune, “Followers of the Lamb”
  • “Alleluia” from “Brazilian Psalm” by Jean Berger — praising with waving of palms, so very much a processional piece
  • “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen” from “BWV 12” by Bach — few other works capture the spirit of Holy Week like this choral movement
  • “Hidden in Light” by Stanford Scriven — stirring and energetic a cappella setting
  • “Rejoice in the Lamb” by Benjamin Britten — exquisite solo sections and a dynamic organ part make this a special treat for performer and listener alike
  • “Lord of the Dance” by John Ferguson — a delightful setting with a fantastic surprise in the middle
  • “Tönet, ihr Pauken!” from “BWV 214” by Bach — secular cantata movement that is a festive and exciting work
  • “Invocation and Dance” by David Conte — setting of the moving words of Walt Whitman that explores the gamut of emotions in truly exciting music
  • “El Hambo” by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi — a quirky setting that will leave everyone smiling
  • “Finale” from “The Gondoliers” by Gilbert and Sullivan — a rousing “almost” finale to our concert
  • “Auld Lang Syne” by Till Meyn — another premiere that is a setting of the classic text by Robert Burns, has subtle and beautiful shifts of harmony, and shares the beloved melody with each voice part

Christopher says this is a really exciting time to make music at TCU — and his Concert Chorale students have worked very hard, hit the ground running, and been absolutely wonderful. “This is a really remarkable and driven group of students who really are just doing such amazing things,” Christopher proclaims. “I’m so proud of them, and I’m excited to share this concert.”

Please join us on Sunday, March 20, at 2:30 pm in the Sanctuary for this spectacular performance by Fort Worth’s own TCU Concert Chorale!

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