With Centre College’s bicentennial approaching in 2019, the College’s music department is preparing for a celebratory performance titled “200 Strong,” a collaborative project with orchestras from Asbury University and Berea College. Two concerts will be held, one on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m., in Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts, followed by Sunday, Nov. 4 at 3 p.m., at Union Church in Berea, Kentucky.
“Since arriving at Centre four years ago, I’ve been struck by the incredible camaraderie and non-competitive collaboration and support of conductors in Central Kentucky,” said Johann J. Van Niekerk, assistant professor of music and director of choral ensembles.
After connecting with the conductors at Asbury and Berea, Van Niekerk said he began to dream big and wonder if they could place 200 musicians on the Newlin Hall stage to celebrate 200 years of Centre’s history and showcase the role the performing musical arts have played in shaping the College’s legacy and identity.
“By combining forces, we are able to perform works on a larger scale than on our own, making us ‘stronger,’ but this concert is not just about quantity but quality,” he explained. “This performance doesn’t just feature a lot of musicians but some of the very best musicians of each respective institution, directed by some phenomenal conductors with decades of experience.”
Van Niekerk said this is a collaborative project in every sense of the word in regards to the selected pieces, format of the concert, and venues for rehearsals and concerts.
“Regarding the Centre community specifically, I strongly encourage all alumni or supports of these ensembles to come celebrate this milestone with us, and come listen to some truly fine music,” he added.
The concert will feature music from the classical and romantic choral traditions, as well as 20th and 21st century works from the United States and South Africa.
The orchestras will combine for one piece, the Berceuse and Finale from “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky, and the final selection will feature all of the ensembles for Johannes Brahms’ “Schicksalslied” or “Song of Fate.”
The finale will be directed by Stephen Bolster from Berea College, who will retire at the end of this year.
“Bolster, together with Vicki Bell from Asbury and Barbara Hall, Centre professor emerita, has been integral in the choral-academic Kentucky community, and I hope this concert, and the Brahms ‘Schicksalslied’ in particular, will prove a fitting tribute or ‘going away gift,’” Van Niekerk said.
He added that this is similarly a showcase for the orchestras of Asbury and Centre, who are doing phenomenal work and experiencing growth under conductors Nathan Miller and Robert Seebacher.
“I am truly thankful for the musicianship and talent of these colleagues and for their enthusiasm and support,” he concluded. “This will be a phenomenal concert on a monumental scale. While it is not strictly in 2019, it is my hope that this will be a fitting kick-off and warm-up for this year of celebration.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
October 25, 2018
IF YOU GO
200 Strong: Musical Collaboration among Centre College, Asbury University and Berea College
• Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. • Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts
• Sunday, Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. • Union Church in Berea, Kentucky
Free and open to the public
Convocation credit for Centre students
VISIT THE CENTRE COLLEGE BICENTENNIAL WEBSITE