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Cal Poly Symphony and Choirs: France Tour Preview Concert

Saturday, June 8, 2024
7:30 p.m., Performing Arts Center

The Cal Poly Symphony and Cal Poly Choirs will perform celebrated works from the French and American repertory at 7:30 p.m. Saturday June 8, in the Performing Arts Center.

The “France Tour Preview Concert” will feature works the symphony and choirs will perform while on tour of France in late June, including as part of the 80th anniversary of D-Day at the American Cemetery in Normandy, in the Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in Paris, and other locations throughout the country. David Arrivée directs the symphony, and Scott Glysson directs the choirs.

Two Cal Poly choirs — PolyPhonics and University Singers — and the symphony will perform separately and together.

The combined ensembles will present a variety of shorter works by Gabriel Fauré and Camille Saint-Saëns. Both composers held the position of music director for the celebrated Madeleine Church, which is shaped like a Greek temple, in the late 19th and early 20th century. “The motets by Saint-Saëns are beautiful, elegant and simple,” said Glysson. The works are also the subject of his research and dissertation.

As a part of the D-Day remembrance of the Allies’ June 6, 1944, invasion of France (Normandy) in what became known as the largest amphibious operation in military history, the choirs will present a haunting version of “In Flanders Fields” by Stephen Rew. “In Flanders Fields” is a famous war memorial poem published in 1915 by World War I Canadian medical officer John McCrae. The choirs and symphony will combine to perform John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen” composed for the 1998 film “Saving Private Ryan.”

The symphony will also perform Aaron Copland’s “Variations on a Shaker Melody,” taken from one of the composer’s most iconic works, “Appalachian Spring.”

The choirs and symphony will combine for two larger pieces by important American composers: Dan Forrest and R. Nathaniel Dett. “I Thank You God for Most this Amazing Day” is a setting by contemporary composer Forrest of the E.E. Cummings poem. The poem, as demonstrated in the title, plays with word order and analogies to celebrate the beauty of God and nature.

Dett’s “Chariot Jubilee,” based on the African American spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” is a cantata for tenor, choir and orchestra. Dett was an early 20th-century African American composer whose works were vital in bringing the “spiritual” genre to the masses through his symphonic settings of folk songs. Special guest tenor Wayne Jennings, staff soloist of the Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital, will be featured on the piece. Jennings specializes in the music of Dett.

Tickets ($15 and $20 general, $10 students)

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