Award-winning composer and Middlebury alumna Christina Whitten Thomas ‘01.5 returns to campus for the premiere of her new choral suite, Songs of Gold, on Friday evening, April 21, 2017, 7:30 p.m., in Robison Concert Hall at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Commissioned by the Vermont Choral Union (directed by Jeff Rehbach, music department, who also conducts the Middlebury College Community Chorus), this dazzling work for eight-part chorus and flute includes texts by Vermont-based writer Abigail Carroll, 1950s Waterbury poet Jean Killary, and Middlebury faculty member Jay Parini.
Christina will also present a talk about her music and career as a composer since her graduation from Middlebury at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, in room 221 of the Mahaney Center for the Arts, free and open to the public.
The Friday evening concert celebrates the Vermont Choral Union’s 50th anniversary. James G. Chapman, who had previously taught in the music department at Middlebury College and conducted the College Choir, founded the Choral Union in 1967 at the University of Vermont. Today, its 36 singers from across the state take wing with soaring works from medieval times to the present. This 90-minute program encompasses works that bring to life texts from church and theater traditions, romance and the natural world, crossing the centuries from the European and North American continents. In addition to Songs of Gold, the program features works that Chapman introduced to audiences at Middlebury and UVM, including 18th-century psalm settings by historic Vermont figures Justin Morgan and Elisha West, and pieces by such noted composers as William Byrd, Heinrich Schütz, Johannes Brahms, Josef Rheinberger, Maurice Duruflé, Charles Villiers Stanford, Francis Poulenc, Samuel Barber, Will Todd, and Randall Thompson. Tickets ($12/$10/$6) will be available at the door or in advance at the College box office (go.middebury.edu/boxoffice).
Christina Whitten Thomas’s works have been performed throughout the United States including at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Disney Concert Hall. She has received commissions from the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers, the Denver Women’s Chorus, Vox Femina of Los Angeles, the Esoterics of Seattle, Melodia Women’s Choir, the Apollo Men’s Chorus, and the Vermont Choral Union. Her awards include first place in the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir competition, first place in the Los Robles Master Chorale competition, first place in the Park Avenue Christian Church competition, second place in the NATS Art Song Composition Award, the Sorel Conductor’s Choice award, and the Sorel Medallion. Her choral cycle Choral de Bêtes can be heard on Musica Sacra’s 2012 CD release Messages to Myself. In addition to her Middlebury B.A., Christina holds a M.M. in composition from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. She curently resides with her family in Pasadena, California, where she is also an active teacher and vocalist. More information can be found at www.christinawhitten.com.