The Mesquite Weekly is proud to present the March 6, 2020 Southern Utah University Orchestra and Choir concert performance of Mendelssohn’s Oratorio Elijah.
The video presentation of Elijah and Dr. Ipson’s introduction and narrative lecture was produced by the university television studio SUTV-9. We would like to express our appreciation and gratitude and applaud SUU’s effort to reach out and give us joy, hope and inspiration by sharing this musical masterpiece with everyone.
We thank you for the Music!
A short video introduction to Elijah and Mendelssohn and a brief history is hereby provided by music historian Dr. Douglas Ipson.
Dr. Ipson received a Ph.D. in music history at the University of Chicago after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Brigham Young University. A specialist in nineteenth-century Italian opera—especially its political aspects—he has been published in the Cambridge Opera Journal and is a contributor to the forthcoming Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia (expected 2013). Currently he is preparing the critical edition of the opera La battaglia di Legnano for The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, published by the University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi. His other areas of scholarly interest include the role of music in the European revolutions of 1848–49, Shakespeare and opera, the sixteenth-century Italian madrigal, and the intersection of seventeenth-century Venetian opera and painting. He is also an active choral composer and arranger whose works have been published by Hinshaw Music and have been performed by choirs across the country, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the BYU Singers.
The Oratorio Elijah was composed by Felix Mendelssohn and premiered in 1846 in Birmingham England. A brief history of Mendelssohn and his Oratorio Elijah are also provided here.
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn’s compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music. His best-known works include his overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is also his. Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.
Abraham Mendelssohn renounced the Jewish religion prior to Felix’s birth; he and his wife decided not to have Felix circumcised, in contravention of the Jewish tradition. Felix and his siblings were first brought up without religious education, and were baptized by a Reformed Church minister in 1816, at which time Felix was given the additional names Jakob Ludwig. Abraham and his wife Lea were baptized in 1822, and formally adopted the surname Mendelssohn Bartholdy (which they had used since 1812) for themselves and for their children. The name Bartholdy was added at the suggestion of Lea’s brother, Jakob Salomon Bartholdy, who had inherited a property of this name in Luisenstadt and adopted it as his own surname. In an 1829 letter to Felix, Abraham explained that adopting the Bartholdy name was meant to demonstrate a decisive break with the traditions of his father Moses: “There can no more be a Christian Mendelssohn than there can be a Jewish Confucius”. (Letter to Felix of 8 July 1829). On embarking on his musical career, Felix did not entirely drop the name Mendelssohn as Abraham had requested, but in deference to his father signed his letters and had his visiting cards printed using the form ‘Mendelssohn Bartholdy’. In 1829, his sister Fanny wrote to him of “Bartholdy […] this name that we all dislike”
Mendelssohn first visited Britain in 1829, where Moscheles, who had already settled in London, introduced him to influential musical circles. On Mendelssohn’s eighth British visit in the summer of 1844, he conducted five of the Philharmonic concerts in London, and wrote: “[N]ever before was anything like this season – we never went to bed before half-past one, every hour of every day was filled with engagements three weeks beforehand, and I got through more music in two months than in all the rest of the year.” On subsequent visits Mendelssohn met Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, himself a composer, who both greatly admired his music.
Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah premiered on 26 August 1846. It was composed to a German text translated into English by William Bartholomew, who authored and translated many of Mendelssohn’s works during his time in England. Mendelssohn became close to the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, whom he met in October 1844. Papers confirming their relationship had not been made public. In 2013, George Biddlecombe confirmed in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association that “The Committee of the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation possesses material indicating that Mendelssohn wrote passionate love letters to Jenny Lind entreating her to join him in an adulterous relationship and threatening suicide as a means of exerting pressure upon her, and that these letters were destroyed on being discovered after her death.”
He is said to have tailored the aria “Hear Ye Israel”, in his oratorio Elijah, to Lind’s voice, although she did not sing the part until after his death, at a concert in December 1848. Upon Mendelssohn’s death, Lind wrote: “[He was] the only person who brought fulfillment to my spirit, and almost as soon as I found him I lost him again.” In 1849, she established the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation, which makes an award to a young resident British composer every two years in Mendelssohn’s memory. In 1869, Lind erected a plaque in Mendelssohn’s memory at his birthplace in Hamburg.
Dr. Krystal McCoy conducted the SUU Orchestra as well as the SUU Concert Choir, Opus and Luminosa Choirs. Dr. McCoy is the assistant professor of choral education at Southern Utah University (SUU) where she teaches choral literature, methods, advanced conducting, applied voice and conducts the Women’s Choir. In addition, she advises the ACDA student chapter at SUU.
Dr. McCoy began her teaching career in high school choral music where she taught in the New Jersey Public School System for five years. Under her direction, the choral ensembles won superior awards at competitions, frequently performed in Carnegie Hall, and traveled to Sydney, Australia to perform in the Sydney Opera House. Her prior collegiate appointments include the College of Southern Maryland and University of Delaware. Most recently, Dr. McCoy focused on creating community choral programs in Southern Maryland for all ages. She founded and was the Artistic Director of Choral Activities for St. Maries Choral Arts, a community choral organization that provides singing opportunities for second graders through adults, encompassing five ensembles. She was co-founder of the Chesapeake Children’s Chorus and consulted with Encore Creativity for Older Adults, the largest choral organization in the nation for older adults.
Dr. McCoy adjudicates at choral festivals and clinics in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. She presents at conferences and choral reading sessions and conducts honor choirs at various levels. Her education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Bucknell University, a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College, and a Doctorate of Musical Art in Music Education from Boston University. She studied conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt, Andrew Megill, James Jordan and William Payn. She performs frequently as a soprano soloist in choral works such as Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Handel’s Messiah. She was the soprano in residence for the Bach Cantata Ensemble of Southern Maryland. Her research interests include community engagement, adult music education, and preservice music education.
Dr. Xun Sun provided the preparatory activities for the Concert Orchestra and also showcased his talents in the role of a concert violinist.
Appointed to his current academic position in 2001, Dr. Xun Sun is serving as Director of Orchestral Activities at Southern Utah University. As a tenured faculty member, his teaching duties include that of conducting the University Symphony Orchestra and String Ensemble. In addition, he teaches courses in Advanced Instrumental Conducting and Applied Instruction of Violin at the Music Department. Dr. Xun Sun has been named The 30 Professions of the Year of 2015 by Musical America. He also received award of 2015 Educator of the Year Award from American String Teachers Association Utah Chapter, and 2014 Board of Trustees Award of Excellence by Southern Utah University.
Professor Xun Sun has continually broadened his professional career as an orchestral conductor. His most recent performance was conducting Henan Symphony Orchestra, Anhui Symphony, Hunan Symphony and Hubei Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the world renowned China Philharmonic Orchestra in recording a new CD of title on America Journey , music by American composers Marshall McDonald and Steve Nelson. In 2007, he was invited to conduct the Lviv Philharmonic in the 8th International Contemporary Music Festival in Ukraine. Mr. Sun also conducted Carlisle Floyd’s opera Susanna, the opera of Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck and Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni. In 2011 he conducted the world premiere of the Modern Dance Drama Helen’s Dream combined production of SUU and Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre of China. As the founder and director, Professor Sun continues to teach the annual Hunan Conductor’s Workshop in Hunan, China.
Mr. Xun Sun has also served as the Music Director/Conductor of the Orchestra of Southern Utah since 2003. Dr. Sun has made many appearances over the years in concert series and educational programs. Under his leadership, the OSU world premiered the symphonic suite Spanish Trail Suite by Marshall McDonald and Steve Nelson. In June 2008, the League of American Orchestras presented OSU with an Award of Excellence in the Annual Gold Book Online competition and an Audrey Baird Audience Development Award, making OSU the only orchestra to receive these awards from the League of American Orchestras that year.
Born in the city of Taiyuan, China, Mr. Xun Sun manifested distinctive musical talent at an early age. He began his formal music training and violin studies at Wuhan Conservatory of Music in China at age 11 through the government’s scholarship program for exceptional music students. This substantial music training led him to successful graduate studies in United States. Under the Evelyn Ryan Nelson Concertmaster Fellowship at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Conservatory of Music, and he received Master’s degrees in Instrumental Conducting and Violin Performance. In 2013 He earned Doctor Degree in Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, New York.