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Bemidji Symphony Orchestra closes season with combined performance

In a tribute to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, Bemidji Youth Symphony, Bemidji State University Choir, Bemidji Chorale and four professional soloists will join in a performance of the composer's major works.

The concert will be at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Bemidji High School Auditorium. Tickets, which will be available at the door, cost $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens. Admission is free for Bemidji School District and BSU students with IDs.

The concert, titled "Inspiration of Spirit," celebrates the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. Two major Mozart choral works, the "Requiem" and "Ave Verum Corpus," will feature the combined musicians.

The "Requiem" was unfinished at Mozart's death at age 35 in 1791. Beverly Everett, conductor and Bemidji Symphony Orchestra music director, said the concert will feature the original "Requiem," which was finished by Mozart's student, Franz Sussmayr. She said other composers, such as Robert Levin and H.C. Robbins Landon, also have studied Mozart's notes and have written completed versions of the "Requiem."

BSU student Cory Froelich will take the part of Sussmayr during the concert to describe in a narrative written by Everett the times and responsibility of finishing his master's work.

"He's going to go back in time," Everett said.

She said Mozart probably knew he was dying as he wrote the "Requiem," but he continued writing. Everett said Mozart wanted the "Requiem" to be the beginning of a new kind of church music, a work that speaks to the emotions like Mozart's operas.

"My hope is that it's going to be a very personal experience for everyone there," Everett said of Sunday's concert.

The performance will also be a moving experience for the musicians, Everett said.

She said she shared with the young musicians her experience as a sophomore at Baylor University when Robert Shaw directed her university choir in singing the Brahms 'Requiem."

"It was a life-changing experience," she said.

She said the Mozart works are not "just another thing we're singing."

"It's a really important opportunity," she said. "It makes them a part of something that's bigger than they are. It makes them part of history. It's an honor when you think how great Mozart was."

Featured in the performance will be four guest soloists:

E Elizabeth Duhr, mezzo soprano, resident artist in training at the Tri Cities Opera Company in Binghamton, N.Y.

E Patricia Prunty, soprano, who made her debut with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera in 1992.

E Robin Roewe, tenor, who made his debut with the Orchestra da Camera del Nuevo Mundo in Mexico City.

E Craig Fields, baritone, of Minneapolis, who has sung in operas around the world.The "Ave Verum Corpus" is another well-known Mozart choral composition also written in 1791 about six months before his death and given as a gift to a choirmaster friend.

In addition to the choral works, the Bemidji Youth Symphony, also under Everett's direction, will open the concert with Mozart's 25th Symphony. This recently formed group is made up of advanced middle school musicians.

The Bemidji Chorale is under the direction of Pat Mason, BSU adjunct instructor of music. The BSU Choir is under the direction of Bradley Logan, BSU music department chair.

The concert is underwritten by Fern Ramsey Birnstihl with an additional grant from the Region 2 Arts Council.

For more details, contact the BSU music department at 755-2915.