|Carmina Burana plays in Grand Forks Feb. 23|
Four Grand Forks arts organizations are collaborating to produce a rare, fully-staged version of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, the world’s most often performed piece of classical music. Set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, the spectacle of voice, music, dance and color will feature more than 250 musicians and dancers from the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, Grand Forks Master Chorale, University of North Dakota Choirs, and North Dakota Ballet Company.
The cooperative venture is made possible in part by a grant from the Greater Grand Forks Marketing Services Partnership, an initiative supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Carmina Burana premiered in 1937 as a choreographed “theater cantata,” but now is usually presented as a concert piece. The Grand Forks production will be one of the few in North America this year that captures the grand spectacle that Orff originally intended, says James Hannon, Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra musical director and conductor. This approach, he said, should make it a destination event for music lovers from a large region.
Along with Handel's Messiah, Carmina Burana is the recording most often owned by people who don’t consider themselves classical music fans, Hannon said. The most recent performance in Grand Forks was in 1991, when it sold out at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. This year’s venue, the 2,300-seat Chester Fritz Auditorium, will provide the space, lighting and technical apparatus for a theatrical version.
Why is this music so popular? In part, Hannon said, because of the frequent use of the spectacular opening chorus, “O Fortuna,” in movies, soundtracks and television commercials. The work also has influenced many of today’s pop rock musicians, Hannon said, making Orff’s masterpiece accessible to a young audience. Student tickets will be available for as little as $5.
Orff, 1895-1982, based the work on 13th-century poems and songs written by a group of dissident monks known as the goliards. He set 24 of them to his own symphonic music.
Carmina Burana is divided into three parts framed by its famous prologue and epilogue suggesting the indifferent turn of Fortune’s wheel. The main sections evoke the optimism of spring time, the pleasures of tavern life, and a celebration of love.
The songs, sung mostly in Latin, vary in length from less than 30 seconds to four minutes. The huge chorus alternates with three soloists in collaboration with the powerful orchestral music, Hannon said, all the while testing the artistic boundaries of the human voice.
The soloists include soprano Anne Christopherson, UND associate professor of music who performs internationally in opera, musical theatre and other genres. Joining her will be tenor C. David Bryan, a professional choral singer from New York, and baritone Peter Halverson of the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Company.
Preparing the collaborating performers are Master Chorale and UND Choral Studies Director Joshua Bronfman and North Dakota Ballet Company Director and Choreographer Job Christenson.
Tickets are available now at the Chester Fritz Auditorium or from Ticketmaster. Prices: adults, $20/$17/$15/$10; students (age 12-22), $15/$12/$10/$5; children under 12 are free but require a ticket.
For more information, contact GGFSO Executive Director Jenny Tarlin at (701) 740-2902.
-- Tammy Mulske, Technology and Marketing Supervisor, Music, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-3271