In Focus: The Bemidji Chorale and Festival Orchestra Prepares for November Concert
For over 40 years, the Bemidji Chorale has been providing music to the people of Bemidji. Ahead of the holiday season, the group will hold their November concert this Sunday with a selection of music from Franz Schubert and Morten Lauridsen.
The Bemidji Chorale meets once a week on Mondays to develop their skills in a close-knit community of singers.
“This is a community choir that essentially welcomes students, faculty, staff, community members from all over the region without audition,” said conductor James Bowyer. “I do ask that I hear each singer so that we can talk about expectations.”
Earlier this year, Dr. Bowyer, an associate professor of music at BSU, became director of the Chorale.
“I took over the choir back in January of 2023, and in my first concert with the choir in May of ’23, we had 27 singers. And now we are – we have more than 45 singers. So just, you know, in the last couple of months, we’ve really grown,” Bowyer said.
Dr. Bowyer believes that the selection of music for their upcoming concert will reach new heights of excitement with the inclusion of a festival orchestra. He also spoke to Lakeland News about what the orchestra and choir will focus on when performing on Sunday.
“It’s a lot of Latin [text]. So we’ve been working a lot on just Latin pronunciation,” explained Bowyer. “We’re singing two pieces of [Schubert’s] ‘Magnificat,’ which is actually a text that comes from the book of the Gospel of Luke, and that’s going to be opening our performance, [a] big, bombastic orchestral piece with our choir. And then the second piece is a longer, more subdued, very luminous, very lush harmonies in a piece by Morten Lauridsen, ‘Lux Aeterna.'”
With the music they share, the Bemidji Chorale is making a statement in the community, allowing the public witness the Chorale’s expansion since Dr. Bowyer took over as director.
“The feeling about building community in choral music is that you build it through the music, and that comes from having very high expectations, expecting our singers to be musicians and to be full contributors beyond just learning notes and rhythms, but really, really making a commitment to being choral artists,” said Bowyer.
The Bemidji Chorale’s November 2023 Concert will be hosted at Bangsberg Recital Hall, Bemidji State University, on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. The event is free of charge and will be followed by a reception. Donations of any kind will be welcomed. The recital hall will have a ground-level entrance to accommodate wheelchair users.
More information on the Chorale can be found on their website.