Cathedral Concert Today

The Fond du Lac Symphonic Band will present its 42nd annual Cathedral Concert at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 3:00 p.m. Under the direction of Music Director Dale Shipe and Associate Conductor Jill Wagner, the program will feature familiar concert band repertoire, along with new music by three noted contemporary band composers.

The program will open with Samuel Barber’s Commando March, composed during World War II for the U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Training Command in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Two 21st century compositions draw on 16th century themes. Between the Two Rivers-Variations on “Ein’ Feste Burg” was commissioned by a concert band in Aalst in the Netherlands. Located between tributaries of the River Dommel, the town of Aalst is highly religious, so composer Philip Sparke chose Luther’s chorale, Ein’ Feste Burg, for the theme. The band will introduce the piece by singing Luther’s hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God, with the audience joining on the last verse.

Steven Reineke’s tone poem The Witch and the Saint tells the story of twin sisters born in Germany in 1588. The birth of twins was considered a bad omen, and Reineke’s music vividly portrays the turbulent lives of these vastly misunderstood women. The third recent band composition is The Awakeningby Brian Balmages, inspired by that “breakthrough” moment when people start to realize there is much more to life than they originally thought.

Baritone Jason Martin will sing  Simple Song from Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” and The Holy City by Stephen Adams. A senior voice major at UW-Milwaukee, Martin has sung many roles through the University’s Opera Theatre program. His concert engagements have included baritone soloist in Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the Milwaukee Children’s Choir.

In anticipation of the coming holiday season, the band will perform two pieces originally written for voice. In England, troupes of Mummers would go from house to house, putting on a play and passing the hat for donations. The plays would end with the singing of songs, notably a Christmas Carol. Percy Grainger scored Sussex Mummers’ Christmas Carol for piano in 1911,  and Richard Franko Goldman completed scoring for concert band when Grainger died in 1961.  

Morton Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium (O Great Mystery) has become one of the world’s most performed choral compositions since its premiere in 1994. Inspired by the beautiful ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ text with its depiction of the birth of the newborn King among the lowly animals and shepherds, the work has been arranged for symphonic winds by H. Robert Reynolds. 

After being “discovered” by Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, Leroy Anderson became one of the most popular American composers of light music in the 20th century. The program will close with Anderson’s A Christmas Festival, a medley of Christmas tunes that includes Joy to the World, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, Jingle Bells and many more.

Thirty minutes prior to the concert, David Hein will present a prelude on the Cathedral pipe organ. An Assistant Professor of Music at Marian University, he has been artistic director of the Fond du Lac Children’s Chorale since 2009. He is also Organist and Chancel Choir Accompanist at The United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay, WI.

There is no admission charge for the concert. A free-will offering will be received.