The Southeast Missouri Symphony will join forces with the University Choir and Choral Union to perform John Rutter’s inspiring choral work, Magnificat, on Tuesday, Nov. 28 in the Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

Also on the program will be Ralph Vaughan Williams’s evocative London Symphony. The conductors for this concert will be Southeast faculty members Drs. Sara Edgerton and Barbara Lamont. The program will also feature the brilliant soprano soloist Dr. Leann Schuering in Rutter’s Magnificat.

The concert will open with a symphonic work by one of the most beloved of British composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams. Vaughan Williams composed a number of very popular works, including the Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. His music fuses a late Romantic approach with a love for English folksong. His London Symphony was first performed in 1914, as all of Europe was on the brink of World War I. The symphony provides a musical evocation of London itself in the early 1900s. For this performance, the orchestra will play the first and fourth movements of the symphony. The symphony begins with a depiction of dawn (complete with the Westminster chimes) and goes on to illustrate a favorite London park, Hampstead Heath, on a holiday in August. The mood is one of exuberance and excitement. The fourth (concluding movement) recaptures much of the energy and vitality of the first movement, before subsiding quietly with a musical depiction of twilight and nighttime in London. 

The second half of the program will feature the choral/orchestral work, Magnificat, by the eminent British composer, John Rutter. This work is based upon the Biblical canticle sung by Mary, which appears in the New Testament. Musical settings of this text have been composed by numerous composers, among whom J. S. Bach’s Magnificat is a notable example. Rutter’s setting of this famous text includes influences of Gregorian chant and Latin American music, as well as traditional Anglican music. Its mood is energetic, bright, and festive, interspersed with sections of calmness and reflection.

Rutter’s Magnificat will feature special guest soloist, soprano Dr. Leann Schuering, in several movements of the work. Based in St. Louis, MO, Dr. Schuering has performed solo engagements and leading roles with many of the area’s most prominent performing arts organizations, including the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Muny, the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, Union Avenue Opera, St. Louis Art Song, The Kingsbury Ensemble, and others. Dr. Schuering is a two-time St. Louis District Winner and Third Place Midwest Region Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In 2013 she was awarded Third Place at the International Czech and Slovak Singing Competition in Montréal, and in 2014 she was an International Semi-Finalist at the Hans Gabor Belvedere Opera Competition in Düsseldorf. 

“We are looking forward very much to this upcoming concert in Bedell in late November,” commented Dr. Sara Edgerton, the conductor of the Southeast Missouri Symphony. “All the music that will be presented on the program will be uplifting and festive. With moods ranging from quiet tranquility to great joy, this program will have something for everyone! This will be a great start to the holiday season!”

The concert will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, starting at 7:30 p.m., in the Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus. Tickets for the concert are now on sale and can be purchased by visiting the River Campus Box Office during normal office hours, by calling (573) 651-2265, or by visiting RiverCampus.org.