Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

12 April 2007
Local Vocalists, Musicians, JSU Students
to Perform Brahms' Piece

Local vocalists and Jacksonville State University students practice a performance of Brahms' 'German Requiem.' Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

By Shawn Ryan
Anniston Star Entertainment Writer

Jarrod Lee can be a bit skeptical when handed a new piece of music to learn.

The bass vocalist, a senior at Jacksonville State University, says it's not skepticism of a piece's artistic value so much as skepticism on whether college students are capable of handling it.

“As a young musician, looking at the work, I think, 'Oh my goodness, I don't know if we can do this,' ” Lee says.

That was his reaction a few months ago when he was handed Brahms' German Requiem, a complex piece integrating about 120 voices and a full orchestra into an hour-long performance. But, as is usually the case, it only took a few weeks to get in the groove, Lee says.

“Once you start rehearsing and everyone has a common goal, it gets to be fun in a way,” he says. “You think, 'I am part of a choir so I need to do my part so I sound like Brahms wanted the piece to sound.' Finally you think, 'Oh OK, I getcha.' It becomes an appreciation.”

Hopefully, that appreciation will come across Sunday when the Requiem is performed at Anniston First United Methodist Church. Except for some professional string players from Birmingham, everyone taking part in the Requiem is either a local musician/vocalist or a JSU student, says Patricia Corbin, director of choral activities at JSU and director of the Requiem.

And there has been plenty of time to learn appreciation for the piece — rehearsals have been going on since January.

“It's a challenge,” Corbin says. “It's not unsingable, but it's difficult. There are some complicated polysonics — multi-voice writing — a lot of notes.”

“I'm really not a professional musician, but Brahms is such a wonderful composer, he always gives you surprises,” says Tom Smith of Oxford, a bass vocalist in the Calhoun County Civic Chorale, which is part of the Requiem's singing ensemble. “The rhythm will be syncopated or different from what you might expect; the chords, the harmony will sometimes be different from what you might expect.”

While most requiems are odes to the dead, Brahms wrote his piece to comfort those who have been left behind, which gives it a more uplifting feel. One of her tasks, Corbin says, is to make sure the singers “understand the message that the text is saying.”

Making the job easier is that this performance, unlike the original, will be sung in English, she says. The original is in German.

“I feel like it's a very inspirational piece because of the material it entails,” Lee says. “It's consoling the heart and soul of those who are still living, and that's why I feel I can make a connection with this, because we have all lost something special in our lives.”

“It talks about the majesty of God and how God has prepared a beautiful place for those in death,” says Smith. “Anyone who has recently lost a loved one will find this to be a very comforting piece of music.”

About Shawn Ryan

Shawn Ryan is the travel editor and entertainment editor for The Anniston Star.

Brahms' German Requiem

What: A cappella choir, Calhoun County Civic Chorale, orchestra, JSU music faculty and students
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Anniston First United Methodist Church, 400 Noble St.
How much: Free, donations accepted
Contact: 782-5559

See story at The Anniston Star's website: .

Note: JSU faculty, staff and students may access The Anniston Star online through their affiliation with the University. Those not affiliated with JSU may have to subscribe to receive The Anniston Star online. If you already subscribe to The Anniston Star, you receive a complimentary online membership. This provides complete access to all the content and services of the site at no additional charge. Otherwise there is a $5 online monthly charge for their online service. Contact The Anniston Star for information.

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at