New sacred work by American composer Daniel E. Gawthrop to be premiered in Washington, D.C., and Fairfax, Va.
REXBURG, ID – A new sacred work written by American composer Daniel E. Gawthrop will be premiered in both Washington, D.C., and Fairfax, Va.
“The Passion and The Promise of Our Lord Jesus Christ” will feature internationally known soloists Kristine Ciesinski and Norman Bailey, along with Michael Belnap of Bloomington, Ind.
The work will premiere in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 5, at the National City Christian Church (Five Thomas Circle NW) at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 6, at Fairfax High School in Fairfax, Va. (3500 Old Lee Highway) at 8 p.m.
Tickets are complimentary and available from the Ricks College Ticket Office at 1-800-71RICKS.
Commissioned by Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, the work will be performed by the Ricks College Collegiate Singers and Symphony Orchestra, Mormon Choir of Washington, D.C., and Southern Virginia Chamber Choir from Southern Virginia College in Buena Vista, Va., under the director of Dr. R. Kevin Call.
Gawthrop, who lives in the Washington area, says the work portrays events in the Savior’s life from his entry into Jerusalem, through the crucifixion, resurrection, post-mortal ministries, and ending with Peter’s powerful testimony at Pentecost.
He says the “passion” traditionally refers to the part of Jesus Christ’s life from his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem through the crucifixion. Passions were written by many composers and were typically performed as part of church services before Easter.
“We didn’t want to end the story with the crucifixion,” he says. “We wanted to include the his resurrection and post-mortal ministries. The ‘promise’ refers specifically to the Apostle Peter’s testimony at Pentecost.”
He adds, “I try to write in an approachable, accessible way. I feel very strongly that I need to touch, change, uplift and move the audience.” Gawthrop has been working on the oratorio for about a year, working full time on it for the past four months. He says it’s the longest piece he has ever written. He typically writes similar, but shorter, pieces for church, schools and community choirs.
About the Work
This oratorio utilizes scriptures in a musical setting to portray events in the Savior’s life. Beginning with his entry into Jerusalem and continuing through the crucifixion, the story extends to majestic accounts of his resurrection and his post-mortal ministries.
The “passion” traditionally refers to the part of Jesus Christ’s life from his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem through the crucifixion. Passions were written by many composers and were typically performed as part of church services before Easter. “We didn’t want to end the story with the crucifixion,” says the composer, Daniel E. Gawthrop. “We wanted to include the his resurrection and post-mortal ministries. The ‘promise’ refers specifically to the Apostle Peter’s testimony at Pentecost.”
The oratorio is a serious work of art, composed for professional soloists, large chorus, and full symphony orchestra. The composer has deliberately chosen a style which is melodic, rich, colorful, appealing and approachable for general audiences. Anyone who enjoys Handel’s Messiah or other choral music of most kind should find this new piece enjoyable and uplifting.
The text is drawn from the King James version of the Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon that tells of Christ’s visit to the New World following his resurrection. “I stress that this work is intended to expanded the sacred music repertoire, and thus is a gift of Ricks College to persons of all faiths everywhere,” the composer says. “I tried to write in an approachable, accessible way. I feel very strongly that I need to touch, change, uplift and move the audience.”
About the Composer
Daniel E. Gawthrop was born October 21, 1949, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As a youth he sang in numerous school and church choirs, and studied piano, organ, and trombone. Later studies included organ performance and composition at Michigan State University and Brigham Young University.
Mr. Gawthrop served for three years as composer-in-residence to the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (of Fairfax, Virginia) and has been the recipient of four grants from The Barlow Endowment for Musical Composition. He has been commissioned by dozens of institutions including the American Choral Directors Association through their prestigious Raymond Brock Memorial series, and has had works premiere in the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Salt Lake City Mormon Tabernacle, and Washington National Cathedral.
His choral pieces have been performed and recorded by such eminent ensembles as The United States Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Gregg Smith Singers, the Turtle Creek Chorale, the Paul Hill Chorale, the American Boychoir, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Cathedral Choral Society (of Washington National Cathedral) and literally hundreds of other groups in the United States and abroad.
In addition to his work as a composer, he was a morning radio announcer on KBYU-FM in Provo, Utah, from 1985-87 and an evening radio announcer on WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., for 12 years. Gawthrop has been active as a clinician and adjudicator, church musician, conductor, teacher and writer (including a period as music critic for The Washington Post). Mr. Gawthrop is a Life Member of the American Choral Directors Association, a member of Chorus America, a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the music fraternity, and a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
About the Soloists
Kristine Ciesinski, Soprano
Kristine Ciesinski, who is married to Norman Bailey, also lives in Victor, Idaho, and is an adjunct faculty member of the Ricks College Music Department. She has been self-employed as an operatic/concert singer since 1979. In recent years she has been a guest artist with the San Francisco Opera, Bonn Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Delaware, Stuttgart Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Dusseldorf Opera and Bremen Opera. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts – voice performance from Boston University. In 1977 she won first prize at the Annual International Opera Competition at the Salzburg Mozarteum and first prize at the Geneva International Music Competition. In 1978 she was a national finalist at the Metropolitan Opera Competition.
Norman Bailey, Baritone
Norman Bailey, a semi-retired soloist, lives in Victor, Idaho, and is an adjunct faculty member of the Ricks College Music Department. Born in Birmingham, England, in 1933, he has been listed as one of the top Opera Singers of the 20th Century. In a career which has spanned almost 50 years, he has sung leading roles in virtually all the major opera houses and countries in the world. For eight years he taught as a professor in the vocal department of the Royal College of Music in London. He holds a C.B.E. (Commander of the British Empire; B.Mus. (Rhodes University); D.Mus. in Honoris Causa (Rhodes University); Teaching and Performing Diplomas (Rhodes University); Performing Diploma (Vienna State Academy of Music); Hon.R.A.M. (London).
Michael Belnap, Tenor
Tenor Michael Belnap is an assistant professor of voice at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where he teaches a variety of students interested in opera and musical theater. The Ricks College alumnus also has had an active performing career. This past summer he was invited to Greece to sing with Sherrill Milnes at Opera Agean in Athens. While a student at Ricks in the early 1980s, Belnap participated in many of the performance groups. He sang with Richard Robison in the Vikaliers, with Clyde Luke in the A Capella Choir and served as student conductor. He also performed solo acts, singing and playing the violin in the Program Bureau with John Thompson.
After earning a master’s degree from Brigham Young University, he returned to teach voice at Ricks for two years (1988-90) during which time he was also the coach and accompanist for the A Capella Choir Barbershop Quartet and the Ladies Trio. He was also the vocal coach for Showtime Company. He sang the tenor solos in Darwin Wolford’s “Behold He Cometh” and Robert Cundick’s “Song of Nephi.”
About the Conductor
Dr. R. Kevin Call is director of orchestras and coordinator of string studies at Ricks College. He performs regularly in solo recitals, chamber music concerts and as guest soloist with orchestras throughout the Intermountain West. Dr. Call is a founding member of the Ricks College Faculty Serenata String Trio. In addition to his performing, he conducts the Ricks College Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. He holds a doctorate in music from the University of Michigan, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Brigham Young University.
About Ricks College
Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, was established as Bannock Stake Academy in 1888 and today is the largest private two-year college in the United States. The college will become known as Brigham Young University-Idaho later this year when it begins offering bachelor’s degrees. The residential college is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ricks currently has 8,955 students who come from all 50 states and more than 40 foreign countries.
Approximately 2,000 students are involved in programs sponsored by the Music Department. The college has five choirs, three bands, three orchestras and two jazz bands. There are 146 students majoring in music at the present time. Degrees with a number of specialized options are offered that will prepare students to continue their baccalaureate preparations in music theory, performance, music education, music therapy, piano pedagogy and many other music related careers.
The mission of Ricks emphasizes building testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraging living its principles; providing a quality education for students of diverse interests and abilities; preparing students for further education and employment, and for their roles as citizens and parents; and maintaining a wholesome academic, cultural, social and spiritual environment.
2001 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.