By Abby Kozal
The Grand Rapids Community College Choir and Percussion Group are teaming up to perform Carl Orff’s Colossal Cantata ‘Carmina Burana’ at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the St. Cecilia Music Center.
“Carmina Burana” is a major work of choral literature,” said Caleb Wenzel, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at GRCC.
Wenzel described the piece as a “religious satire,” and went on to explain the story behind the piece. “Most of it is written by people we presume to have been monks,” he said, “but sometimes they’re writing about Greek Gods and use the various life motions that they use in Greek mythology to represent different things like love and sexuality. Sometimes they use more decisively religious language. One of the most famous baritone solos, ‘I am the Abbot,’ the abbot is depicted as a bartender.”
While the piece is traditionally performed in larger orchestras, it has a smaller orchestration intended to be performed with two pianos and a percussion ensemble. This led to GRCC’s choir teaming up with the percussion ensemble to perform this piece. “(The performance) gives us a chance to perform it in a way people haven’t heard as often,” Wenzel said.
Christopher Jones, Adjunct Professor at GRCC and Director of the Percussion Ensemble, is also excited about the collaboration.
“I want to build relationships with my colleagues, and students, as well as provide more performance opportunities for the percussion students,” Jones said. “It also gives me the opportunity to coach my students through a type of collaboration that makes up a large part of my professional performing career. That experience is invaluable for students and for me as a teacher to be able to work side by side with my students in this type of musical setting.”
Three of GRCC’s choir groups will be forming alongside the percussion ensemble: the Concert Choir, the College Choir, and the Madrigals.
“We have two graduates of the program who are coming back to sing the vocal solo pieces,” Wenzel said.
The vocal solos will be sung by Chelsea Molin, soprano, and John Lovegrove, tenor. Professor William Bokhout will be performing the baritone solo.
This performance was scheduled to take place back in April of 2022. However, it was canceled after police released the video footage of the shooting of Patrick Lyoya.
Due to the cancellation, “Some of the students have been working on it since February while some have had to (learn) the whole thing since the start of this semester,” Wenzel said.
The admission will cost $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and veterans. Admission is free for high school students and GRCC students with a valid Student ID. Tickets are available at this link.