Springfield Symphony conjures the sea

The saying goes if you hold up a seashell to your ear, you can hear the sea. Listen to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s next MasterWorks concert, and you may also hear the sea, or at least its spirit.

Symphony at Sea will welcome guest vocalists, as the Springfield Symphony Chorale and soloists soprano Minnita Daniel-Cox and baritone Mark Spencer join the Orchestra at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

The program will be centered around Vaughan Williams’ “A Sea Symphony,” which includes four movements.

“Robert Shaw, the renowned choral conductor, used to say that the Vaughan Williams ‘Sea Symphony’ was the most beautiful piece of choral music written in the 20th century,” said Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson, the symphony orchestra’s conductor. “It is massive one moment, sublime the next. It captures the power and majesty of the sea and its mystery and timelessness, as well.”

Williams was inspired by poet Walt Whitman’s classic “Leaves of Grass” and included passages that included ocean references. Stafford Wilson said the poetry and music work together powerfully.

“Vaughan Williams’ music is extremely tuneful, full of wonderful melodies from sea-shanty songs to hymnlike moments,” he said. “The text, taken from Walt Whitman, is the essence of American romantic poetry, full of passion and beauty. Together they form a masterpiece of extraordinary breadth that is as relevant today as when they were written. “

Spencer is a Springfield resident and an associate professor of vocal studies at Cedarville University. Daniel-Cox has a Doctorate of Musical Arts and is assistant professor of voice and coordinator of the voice area at the University of Dayton.

The concert will be preceded by a performance prelude in the Kuss Auditorium lobby and the opening notes presentation about the concert by Wittenberg University English professor Bob Davis in the Turner Studio Theatre. Both begin at 7:15 p.m.

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Contact this contributing writer at bturner004@woh.rr.com.