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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Choirs, orchestra prepare for Beethoven festival

The Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra and numerous Notre Dame choral groups will perform at the Beethoven Festival tonight at 8 p.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center as part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Fr. Edward Sorin’s birthday.

The Notre Dame Glee Club along with the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir, Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir and Notre Dame Celebration Choir, a total of more than 200 singers, are scheduled to perform several pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven. Pianist and artist-in-residence Daniel Schlosberg will substitute John Blacklow as the soloist.

According to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s website, the program consists of movements from Symphony No. 8, Choral Fantasy and Mass in C major.

Basilica director of music Andrew McShane and professor Daniel Stowe, the conductor of the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra and Glee Club director, began preparation for the concert in August. McShane said the biggest challenge was assembling and coordinating the sheer number of musicians involved in the festival, approximately 250 vocalists and instrumentalists combined.

Stowe said he will direct Symphony No. 8 and Choral Fantasy, while McShane will direct the Mass in C major.

Karen Schneider-Kirner, director of the Notre Dame Celebration Choir, said Beethoven’s pieces are well suited for large forces, and the festival was feasible since there are many student musicians within the Notre Dame community.

“It's a way for our students to hear the same texts we proclaim now at Mass, set musically by one of the greatest composers who ever lived, and we'll be singing it in the original German,” Schneider-Kirner said. “It will also feature soloists, members of the Notre Dame community from Campus Ministry, our music department and the Masters in sacred music program."

The choirs rehearsed the pieces separately at the beginning of the semester and began rehearsing together in October. McShane and Schneider-Kirner said both of their choirs dedicated numerous hours each week to concert rehearsal.

Schneider-Kirner said it was a challenge to add the extra rehearsal time on top of her choir’s liturgical responsibilities around campus. The Women’s Liturgical Choir performs at the weekly Saturday Vigil Mass, including Mass after home football games.

Paul Kearney, president of the Notre Dame Glee Club, said it was a challenge to prepare for the concert while simultaneously preparing for the Glee Club’s fall tour and concert and their Christmas concerts in December.

Those interested in attending the event can purchase regular admission tickets for $10 and student tickets for $5.

Schneider-Kirner said the money will cover expenses incurred by the concert, including rental fees for instrumental parts, music scores for the choir and operating expenses for the concert hall.

“People should come out to see a great night of music that showcases the collaboration of several University choirs and the genius of Beethoven,” Kearney said.

McShane said he hopes to see the show sell out with about a thousand attendees.

“Members of the ND Community who attend will also be amazed, I think, at the high level of talent on our campus,” Schneider-Kirner said. “We have a lot to be proud of, and music is a powerful way to express the wonderful texts the choir will be proclaiming at the concert.

"It's music that speaks to the heart and soul, even though it was written over 200 years ago.”