MERCERSBURG >> The Mercersburg Area Community Chorus and Orchestra on April 18 and 19 will perform Dave Brubeck's Mass "To Hope" in the Irvine Memorial Chapel at Mercersburg Academy.
Two concerts Saturday will be at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., and one concert at 3 p.m. Sunday.
A jazz quartet and soloists from the U.S. Army Band will join the 110-member chorus and the 30-member orchestra, under conductor Richard Rotz.
The Brubeck Mass was performed by the Chorus in 2008 and proved to be one of the chorus' most popular concerts both for the performers and the audience. The 2015 production brings back many of the soloists from that performance: Leigh Ann Hinton, soprano; Steve Cramer, tenor; and a jazz quartet from the US Army Band: Tony Nalker, piano; Bill Linney, saxophone, Harold Summey, percussion, and Ray Irving, bass.
Dave Brubeck was the leader of the famed Dave Brubeck Quartet and in 1959, his breakthrough album, Time Out, climbed to No. 2 on the pop charts. Less well known is Brubeck, classical composer, who studied with Darius Milhaud and who has created a sizable number of remarkable choral works. Brubeck started writing sacred music in 1965. "To Hope" premiered in Philadelphia's Cathedral-Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in 1980.
"Obviously, it comes alive with Brubeck's great affinity for jazz," said conductor Richard Rotz. "It is great fun to perform and to hear!"
Soprano Leigh Ann Hinton has performed as a concert soloist throughout the United States, Europe, and China. After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in vocal performance from Ithaca College, she joined first the United States Navy Band Sea Chanters Chorus and then The United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own" in Washington, D.C., where she was a member of The U.S. Army Chorale, and now serves as vocal soloist and announcer with The U. S. Army Concert Band.
In April 2011 Hinton had the honor of performing as featured soloist in a series of concerts with The U.S. Army Band and the Military Band of the People's Liberation Army of China; these combined musical forces performed to sold-out audiences at the Kennedy Center, The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, as well as at an unprecedented concert given at the great hall of the United Nations General Assembly. Hinton has performed at many events at the White House and for the funerals of President Ronald Reagan and President Gerald Ford at the National Cathedral. A highly coveted National Anthem soloist, she has performed the National Anthem throughout the country and in the Washington, DC region at many significant military and sporting events.
Tenor Stephen Cramer made his Broadway debut in 2000 in the New York production of Les Miserables, performing the role of Jean Valjean. In 2007, he sang the role of Tony in the 50th Anniversary salute to West Side Story performed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Stephen is a six-time Helen Hayes Award nominee, and in 1994, he was honored with the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Stephen is no stranger to oratorio and opera as well as musical theatre. Classical roles include Alfredo in La Traviata, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, the tenor soloist in Bruckner's Te Deum with the Choral Arts Society of Washington, and the tenor soloist in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for The Lawton Philharmonic in Oklahoma.
Raymond Irving has enjoyed a long career as a bassist. He has performed with many regional orchestras and opera companies, and is currently principal double-bass with the Apollo Orchestra. He is also a freelance musician, frequently doubling on electric bass. He has performed with such stars as Lorrie Morgan, Clay Aiken and Neal Sedaka.
While serving in the U.S. Army, Irving was a member of The United States Army Field Band, Fort Meade, Md. In this capacity he was bassist with the Concert Band, the Soldier's Chorus, and the Jazz Ambassadors. He has performed many times with the Mercersburg Area Community Chorus.
Bill Linney earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree in jazz studies from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Since 1998, he has played saxophone in the U.S. Army Band in Washington, DC. As an educator, he taught at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., for five years, developing materials and methods to help students learn to play jazz saxophone. He has studied with Bert Ligon, Jim Riggs and Dan Haerle.
Tony Nalker is currently the pianist and leader of the U.S. Army Blues, the premiere jazz ensemble of the U.S. Army. He routinely plays for the highest levels of the government and military and has performed in several USO tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds an undergraduate degree in music from James Madison University and an M.A. in music from the University of Iowa. Nalker has taught jazz piano at the University of Iowa and George Mason University and has also performed on more than 120 recordings in a variety of styles, including three Grammy finalists (and one winner) in the children's music category.
He is the pianist for the Hal Leonard Jazz Play-a-long series, which now has more than 180 books/CD's in its collection. In addition he performs as a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and has recently traveled to Russia, Ethiopia, and Kenya on diplomatic outreach tours on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. He also regularly performs with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops.
Other works on the program include Morten Lauridsen's "Sure On This Shining Light"; arrangements of "Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "At the River"; and Aaron Copland's "The Promise of Living."
There is no admission charge but an offering will be taken. Early arrival is recommended as seating is limited
For more information about the Mercersburg Chorus, visit www.mercersburgchorus.org