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CWC to present choral masterwork

Apr 28, 2014 - From staff reports

The Central Wyoming College Collegiate Chorale and special guest musicians will present Carl Orff's choral masterwork "Carmina Burana" on Saturday in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theatre.

The 7:30 p.m. concert features guest singers, soloists and instrumentalists.

The event is free and open to the public.

This is the final major production for retiring professor of music Robert Hussa who -- along with his colleague of 23 years, Sharon Dalton -- is staging the performance. Dalton and one of her former piano students, Helen Farson, team up as pianists for the concert. Farson, a southern California resident, has a doctorate in musicology.

Also featured are soloists from the University of Wyoming and CWC, including Sadie Lewis, a UW senior from Afton who sings soprano; Ty Hebbert, a UW junior from Gering, Neb., a tenor soloist; and Wes Wesaw, a CWC student who will sing the baritone solos. Percussionists are also from UW and include CWC alumnus Ryan Bell and UW freshman Amanda Harrenga of Lander.

Orff composed the work in 1937 by taking 24 text settings from the 13th century and setting them to music, Hussa said.

"Orff was convinced that music should be wedded with theater, and many different performances have featured dance along with the music," he said.

CWC's production includes a two piano and percussion arrangement that was done in 1954 and endorsed by Orff.

Hussa, who has been the choral conductor at CWC for 34 years, said the piece opens with the "stunning and famous 'O Fortuna,'" which he said should be familiar to the general public as it has been used in many movies and commercials.

The bulk of "Carmina Burana" is in three sections, he said. The first is about pastoral simplicity, or man's encounter with nature. The second part deals with wine, which has the singers breaking out in drinking songs and hymns. The final section describes the passions of men and women. Orff concludes the cycle with "O Fortuna," which states all of man's petty feelings and endeavors are in the fickle hands of fate.

"This work is kind of full-circle for me as well," Hussa said, adding that he sang "Carmina Burana" with the Wyoming State Choir in 1983, the year CWC opened the arts center. "Never did I think we would be able to do this performance with local forces."

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