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Sixty members of the ODU Choir, plus 18 music alumni, will perform "Messa Di Gloria" by Puccini at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, in the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center Atrium.

About 20 additional ODU alumni will attend the concert. A reception will be held in the Diehn Composers Room following the concert.

Many of the alumni performers were among the 40 that performed the piece originally in 1987 as part of the Intercollegiate Symphony Chorus with The Virginia symphony, choir Director Nancy Klein said, including her current graduate assistant, Lisa Ellerbee, who was a freshman for the 1987 performance and will conduct the work's first movement Nov. 12.

"When she shared this with some of her old college friends, they started calling and e-mailing, 'Can we sing too?' and 'I STILL have my music from 1987.' So I ... opened this work up to alumni who can commit to a certain number of rehearsals," Klein said. "We were waiting for the right time and the right group to put this together."

Accompaniment will be provided by the University Orchestra, prepared by Leslie Stewart. Choral soloists are vocal students from the ODU music department.

"Messa di Gloria" was first performed more than 100 years ago on the feast of San Paolino, Klein said. It is an imposing sacred composition and was acclaimed by laymen and music critics after its first performance. Puccini wrote the piece when he was 18 and it represents the fulfillment of his entire musical background.

According to record, this large Mass was written as a graduation thesis for the young composer as he completed his studies at the Institute Musicale of Lucca, Italy. Puccini wrote the piece as a tribute to his family, who were well known for their four-generation contribution to sacred music. The first performance of the piece in the United States occurred on July 12, 1952 in Chicago.

ODU music alumni are teaching in every local school district, Klein said, with most major area music education programs run by ODU graduates.

This article was posted on: November 10, 2004

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