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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Spring oratorio planned to honor Horatio Parker

  • Pittsburg State University Choirs and the Southeast Kansas Symphony will team up for a spring oratorio at 3 p.m. today in the First United Methodist Church.

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  • Pittsburg State University Choirs and the Southeast Kansas Symphony will team up for a spring oratorio at 3 p.m. today in the First United Methodist Church.
    In honor of the 150th anniversary of his birth, the concert will feature the choral and organ music of Horatio Parker.
    Dr. Susan Marchant, PSU director of choral activities, said that she and symphony conductor Raul Munguia, chose the selections for the oratorio in September.
    The program will open with “Organ Concerto in E-flat Minor, Op. 55,” with Munguia directing and Marchant at the church organ. It was composed during Parker’s trip to Europe in the winter of 1901-1902, and was first performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Parker at the organ.
    The second work on the program is “Hora Novissima,” which will be directed by Dr. Marchant. Written in 1892, it was first performed on May 3, 1893, at the church of the Holy Trinity, New York.
    Text is taken from “Du Contemptu Mundi” by Bernard de Cluny, a Benedictine monk who lived in the first half of the 12th century. Written in Latin, it was translated by his mother. It was widely performed in the United States and in England, and European critics hailed it as one of the finest American compositions.
    “This is a work that doesn’t get a lot of performances now, but people my age will remember that it used to be performed more often,” Dr. Marchant said. “This is the piece that put the composer on the map. He even had an opera, ‘Mona,’ performed at the Metropolitan Opera.”
    “Hora Novissima” consists of 11 movements that include quartets, choruses and solo arias. The four soloists, all PSU alumni, are Angela Stansberry Shoup, soprano, Mary Jo Harper, alto, Josh Simpson, tenor, and Jason Hubbard, bass.
    Shoup, a 1996 PSU graduate, just finished singing in “The Impressario” for the Heartland Opera Theatre in Joplin. Written by Mozart, the piece tells of an impressario caught in a rivalry between a mature singer and a talented young upstart.
    “This year, for the first time, I played the older singer rather than the younger role,” Shoup said. “It was way more fun.”
    A 1996 PSU graduate, she also sang a solo in the May 2009 PSU oratorio performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Paulus (St. Paul) Oratorio, Op. 36.
    “I’m so excited to be invited twice,” Shoup said. “It’s also great to sing where my parents are able to attend. I love looking out at the audience and seeing Mom and Dad sitting there.”
    Hubbard, a 1999 PSU graduate, is currently assistant head of school at the Episcopal High School, Baton Rouge, La.
    “I still conduct choirs, 95 percent of why is this wonderful woman here,” he said, referring to Dr. Marchant.
    Page 2 of 2 - Hubbard grew up in Riverton.
    “I directed bands and choirs there a few years before I went to get my master’s degree,” he said. “It was a good place to be.”
    Josh Simpson, 2003 PSU graduate, is music education minister at the Northside Baptist Church, Neosho, Mo.
    “I direct the choir there and lead worship,” he said. “I also teach privately, everyone from children to older adults.”
    Originally from Fort Scott, he previously attended the Southwestern Seminary in Texas.
    “I’m glad to be back in this part of the country again and enjoying the opportunity to sing with Dr. Marchant,” Simpson said. “I haven’t had the opportunity to sing this type of work for a while.”
    Mary Jo Harper teaches kindergarten through second grade students at Winfield Scott Elementary School, Fort Scott, and sings at the First United Methodist Church, Pittsburg.
    “My singing happens at Pittsburg,” Harper said. “Now I get to be a soloist with a group I’ve sung with, and I get to sing with my brother, Richard, which is cool.”
    She also appreciates the fact that, while she’s a soprano, she also gets an opportunity to sing mezzo and alto roles.
    Harper said she plans to spend the summer preparing to audition for pursuing a master’s degree, possibly at the  University of Kansas or PSU.
    “I love my job and I love my littles,” she said. “If I could do this at PSU, I’d still be able to work.”
    The four said they are excited about singing their “Hora Novissima” solos.
    “The work is very romantic,” Hubbard said. “The arias are lush, there’s a lot to play with. That last movement is monumental.”
    Tickets for the concert, available at the door, are $7 for adults and $5 for students aged 13-18. Those 12 and younger will be admitted free.
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