The University of Kansas Symphonic Chorus will join the University of California – Irvine Symphony for the world premiere of Bernard Gilmore’s “Journey to Freedom” and KU professor Forrest Pierce’s “Mirror Cantata” in concert at 4 p.m., Sunday, June 9 at Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo, California.
More than 50 KU student singers are presently in California for the performance. The Symphonic Chorus is led by Paul Tucker, KU director of choral activities, and the orchestra is conducted by his twin brother Stephen Tucker, conductor of the UCI Symphony Orchestra and associate professor of music at UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts.
The concert will be the first time “Journey to Freedom” is performed, and the first time “Mirror Cantata” will be heard in its orchestrated setting. “Journey to Freedom” is a powerful contemporary setting for the biblical story of Exodus. The work was composed by Gilmore in 1981 and originally titled “God’s Chosen.” Gilmore, who passed away in 2013, was a composer, conductor, French horn player and professor of music at UCI. He is best known for his composition “Five Folks Songs for Soprano and Band.”
A one-hour piece, “Journey to Freedom” will feature baritone José Rubio in the role of Moses, tenor and KU associate professor of voice Genaro Méndez as Pharaoh and soprano Awet Andemicael as the narrator. The performance will be captured on video and audio recordings.
While the story is based on the children of Israel’s flight from Egypt and journey to the promised land, the composer wanted the work to reflect many journeys to freedom, Paul Tucker said. The selection of the ensembles, performers and location are intended to reflect that diversity.
“Bernard Gilmore didn’t want this story to belong to any one group of people, he wanted it to apply to everybody,” Tucker said. “Especially in today’s world, when so many people are fleeing their countries. The collection of soloists, reflecting a very diverse group of classical performers, demonstrates the universality of the work.”
The concert will begin with “Mirror Cantata,” a work composed by KU music composition professor Forrest Pierce for chorus and organ during the 2018 American Guild of Organist National Convention at Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. Pierce orchestrated the work for the upcoming performance. KU alumna Sarah Tannehill Anderson will be the featured soprano on “Mirror Cantanta.”
The concert is made possible through the generous support of Reach Out Kansas, Inc.; Jim Zakoura; Lee Smithyman; the Law Office of Smithyman & Zakoura as well as the Dr. Robert Daugherty and the Sandra Keller Daugherty Fund; and Phyllis Gilmore and the friends of Bernard Gilmore.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. They can be purchased by phone at 949-480-4278 or online at soka.edu/pac.