“Lux Aeterna” to be Performed by the Festival Choir

3 08 2012

Ending this year’s Summer Program in style is this year’s Festival Choir concert. Under the direction of Dr. Joe Modica, who returns for the fifth summer,  this collection of young vocalists will undertake Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna”. This seminal work will be performed at Idyllwild Arts on Saturday, August 18 at 1:00 pm and on Sunday, August 19 at 2:00 pm in the University of Redlands Memorial Chapel.

Dr. Modica responded to a few questions for us about the upcoming 2012 Festival Choir and performances.

How has the Festival Choir changed and progressed in the past few years?
We have really put an emphasis on recruiting highly talented high school musicians, most of which have been part of various honor choirs or come recommended by their music teachers. It seems that every year the choir improves, allowing us to perform very Challenging repertoire.

What sort of students do you see coming to the program?
We have students from all over the country attend the festival choir. In the past we have had students from New York, Connecticut, South Carolina, and even Russia and China. Of course most of the students are from California, but these other students lend us a little more diversity.

With young voices how do you approach teaching such an intricate and complex work?
Almost all of the students have had previous experience in a choir. We have a very demanding rehearsal schedule (about 8 hours a day), so it is very important to be careful with young singers so they don’t lose their voices or form bad habits as far as technique. The choral faculty all work with this age group on a regular basis and understand how to teach the repertoire efficiently, keeping the students vocal health at the forefront.

I’m sure that the choral vocal faculty must work with the specific sections quite closely?
Yes they do. Our rehearsal are intense, but we try hard to have fun and to get to know the students. Having a good positive report is very important to our program.

How did you come to choose “Lux Aeterna” for this year’s Festival Choir?
It’s just a wonderful piece and I think the choir will love it. Since we are performing in the Memorial Chapel at the University of Redlands, I wanted to choose a piece which would feature the wonderful organ housed there.

What other works will the Festival Choir be performing?
The first week will feature music around a “nature” theme. We will perform music such as the Mi’kmaq Honor Song, an Argentinian piece titled “Mata del anima sola”, and we will close with Eric Whitacre’s “Cloudburst”, among others. Week two will feature sacred music including a few pieces for double choir. I have also programmed a requiem mass, in which each movement of the mass is from a different composer, which will culminate in Lauridsens “Lux Aeterna.”.

Memorial Chapel at the University of Redlands is a very large space. How do you prepare a choir to make that change or will the acoustics be enough to minimize any problems with projection?
The chapel is a wonderful place to sing, and I think the singers will adjust quite easily. It will be very hot in Redlands in August which creates a few issues, but the acoustics there will be very rewarding for our singers after two weeks of hard work.

Both performances at Idyllwild Arts  and at the University of Redlands are free and open to the public.

The Festival Choir is a longstanding program at Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. The choir has brought together young aspiring singers for decades and many of those who have led the institution and serve on the Board of Governors and Trustees first began as young singers in the choir.

Dr. Joseph Modica is the Director of Pastoral Music at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood, CA where he conducts three choirs and oversees an active music program. He has served on the faculties of the University of South Carolina and Chapman University. In past years at Idyllwild Arts, Dr. Modica conducted Bach’s Magnificat, Bernstein’s Chichester Pslams, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, and Dona Nobis Pacem by Vaughan Williams at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
For more information on the concert, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program or Idyllwild Arts please contact Darren Schilling at dschilling@idyllwildarts.org or at 951 659 2171 x2339.

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