Masterworks Concert set

2/15/13

Concert to showcase 'Requiem,' prospective students

BLUFFTON, Ohio—A rarely heard "Requiem" and high school seniors vying for music scholarships will be featured at Bluffton University's Masterworks Concert on Sunday, Feb. 24, in Yoder Recital Hall. Admission is free to the 2:30 p.m. concert (the former Bach Festival Concert); a free-will offering will be taken for scholarships.

Dr. Mark J. Suderman, a professor of music, will conduct the University Chorale, the Bluffton Choral Society and a community chamber orchestra—along with two solo quartets comprised of Bluffton alumni—in their performance of Florian Leopold Gassmann's "Requiem."

Also on the program will be performances by finalists competing for music scholarships in Bluffton's first Performing Scholar Competition. The scholarships range in value from $18,000-$20,000 and will be renewable annually.

At least eight high school seniors from as far away as South Dakota are expected on campus Saturday, Feb. 23, to audition. Sunday's performers will be chosen by Bluffton's music faculty on the basis of the auditions, plus personal interviews with the faculty and assessments of the students' music theory/aural skills. The visitors will also have an opportunity for private lessons on their instruments while on campus.

Gassmann's "Requiem" was the subject of Suderman's doctoral dissertation more than 20 years ago, and he thinks it "more than likely" that the upcoming performance will be only the second of the 18th-century work in at least 200 years—the other was by a Clovis, Calif., church choir he was directing in 1990.

At the time, Suderman was teaching at Fresno State University while working on the dissertation for his doctorate at the University of Iowa. "For my dissertation, I wanted to do a performance edition of a classical-period piece of music," he recalls. When a professor suggested he look at Gassmann's "Requiem," he became intrigued, particularly with its connection to Mozart.

Mozart used portions of Gassmann's work as a model for movements in his more famous "Requiem," Suderman notes. He adds that the legendary composer "had to have respect for Gassmann if he borrowed materials from him," which was seen as an honor at that time.

That historical interest, along with the work's musical value, sold Suderman, who did the performance edition—with modern clefs and in a modern notational setting—that will be presented at the Feb. 24 concert.

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