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Joint concert to draw on range of talents

Clay Jenkinson, Thomas Jefferson interpreter, will appear with the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra/Bemidji Chorale concert Saturday, July 17. Submitted Photo

In a departure from the usual summer jazz concert with the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and featured players, the symphony, the voices of the Bemidji Chorale and commentary by a famous past president blend together for a program exemplary of America and her people.

A program that is patriotic and yet not politically drawn will be offered, said Pat Mason of the Bemidji Chorale.

The words of Thomas Jefferson as musically interpreted by composer Randall Thompson in his piece, "Testament of Freedom," "The Star Spangled Banner," Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," Calvin Custer's "American Frontier," "American Salute" by Morton Gould and a rousing rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever" by the Mystery Maestro promises to be a stirring evening. The BSO concert, under the baton of Beverly Everett, and the Bemidji Chorale with director Pat Mason will begin at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 17, in the Bemidji High School Auditorium.

"To have the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra joined by the Bemidji Chorale in Randall Thompson's settings of the lasting words of one of our greatest presidents, and to have the actual author of those words, President Thomas Jefferson himself with us - wow!" Everett said. "I can't think of a more exciting or enriching collaboration."

"The music drives the emotion of the text," Mason said. "It has been so much fun preparing the choir because the singing is integral to the whole."

Clay Jenkinson, who is a co-founder of the modern Chautauqua movement, will impersonate Thomas Jefferson and give commentary to the "Testament of Freedom" with words written by Jefferson during the infancy of this nation. This chorale/orchestra piece is based on four texts, and the audience will hear the music and experience it through the vision and voice of Thomas Jefferson Everett said.

Jenkinson's interpretation of Jefferson has been seen by countless public audiences, Supreme Court justices, past presidents and state legislators. He is also the voice of Jefferson on National Public Radio's "The Thomas Jefferson Hour." At the completion of the concert, Jenkinson will hold an informal talk-back and accept comments and questions as Jefferson or as his portrayer.

"Clay Jenkinson is one of our nation's leading scholars and historians," said Everett. "He now shares those gifts of music and verse in a unique and exciting way. We are honored to have Clay as our guest artist."

Tickets for the concert are $10, and all children will be admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased at Lueken's Village Foods North and Brigid's Cross Irish Pub. If available, tickets will be available at the door the night of the performance. Doors will open for seating at 7 p.m.