November 12, 2018

Upcoming choir concert to feature Mozart’s famed 'Coronation Mass'

by Hannah Erickson

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Choral Union at SIU is bringing a fresh perspective to a traditional Mozart piece at their upcoming fall concert. The performance features university and community members, along with four professional soloists who will spotlight the rich history of Mozart’s Coronation Mass.

Concert combines traditional with modern

The concert is set for 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 at Shryock Auditorium. Students from Southern Illinois University’s Concert Choir will join the Choral Union for the performance, with the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra accompanying.

With a little over an hour of music, the performance features a unique blend of music – the grand tradition of Mozart’s music alongside contemporary settings of the same text. For Susan Davenport, professor and director of choral activities at SIU, the combo is an excellent mix for music lovers.

Mass settings have been a long-standing pillar for choral music, and this unique performance creates a good balance between the old and the new, Davenport explained.

 “The main event of this particular concert is a very famous Mozart mass,” Davenport said. “Obviously, I love the fact that we are able to expose the community of Southern Illinois to this wonderful music that is hundreds of years old, and do it in a really high level.”

The concert will include a special quartet performance within the Mozart section, featuring four professional soloists; David Dillard, associate professor in voice baritone at SIU, Brittany Benningfield, music lecturer at SIU, Brett Potts, opera singer from Chicago, and Natalie Krupansky, music teacher from Paducah, Kentucky.

The additional selections on the concert feature mass movements from modern composers including the Sanctus from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass (1971) and Karl Jenkins Agnus Dei from his The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.

Monumental “Verdi Requiem” set for spring semester

The group will follow this fall performance with a dynamic concert set for the end of the spring semester. For the first time in Southern Illinois history, the group will bring the impressive “Verdi Requiem” to concert. Due to the magnitude of this performance, SIU will join with the choirs at Southeast Missouri State University to accomplish the feat.

“The piece requires such a large musical group, we knew our performance would be stronger by joining with the musicians at SEMO,” Davenport explained. The spring concert will include not only the choirs from both schools, but also the orchestras.

“Verdi is a monumental work of the romantic era, and it takes huge orchestral forces and huge choral forces,” Davenport said.

The two performances will take place April 23 in Cape Girardeau and April 25 at Shyrock Auditorium on the SIU campus.

Choral Union a long-standing tradition

With over 100 singers comprised of university and community members, the Choral Union is a long-standing tradition at SIU. Led by Davenport, the group performs masterpieces with orchestral or wind accompaniment at the end of each semester.

With some members singing for over 40 years, the group has a rich history in the Southern Illinois region. Auditions for new participants are held at the beginning of each semester, with the next upcoming audition date Jan. 28.

Tickets for Nov. 29 concert available now

The fall concert is set for 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 at Shryock Auditorium on the SIU campus. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students under 18 or with a college ID. Tickets are available online at or by calling 877-SALUKIS (877-725-8547).

For more information about the upcoming concert or joining the Choral Union, contact Susan Davenport at 618/453-5800.