More than 2,200 people gave a sustained standing ovation as students from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music performed at Carnegie Hall on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8. The historic concert in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage marked the bicentennial of The State University of New York at Potsdam with an unforgettable performance in a storied location.
World-renowned conductor Maestro Duain Wolfe conducted the Crane Chorus and the Crane Symphony Orchestra in a celebratory concert befitting the College’s 200th anniversary, featuring guest artists, epic works and a newly commissioned piece. Approximately 270 students sang and played their hearts out to a hall filled with guests, alumni, family members and friends of the College.
Two vocalists were featured soloists in Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem,” the central work on the program, including guest baritone Christopher Feigum and soprano Fei Ma ’17. As a graduate student at The Crane School of Music, the performance also marked Ma’s Carnegie debut. Wolfe inspired students and alumni alike, after spending a week on the SUNY Potsdam campus in a residency leading up to the Carnegie Hall performance.
The concert opened with the New York City premiere of “Awake, Celestial Airs!” by acclaimed composer Gary Fry, which SUNY Potsdam commissioned in honor of the College’s bicentennial. The work received its world premiere a week earlier in a concert on the Potsdam, N.Y., campus, during the annual Lougheed-Kofoed Festival of the Arts. The work is based on a poem written by American poet John Pierpont, “The Airs of Palestine,” which was written in 1816 — the same year that the College was founded.
The Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra also presented Ralph Vaughan Williams’ triumphal “Serenade to Music,” featuring 16 featured student soloists. The program also contrasted two settings of Psalm 150, with celebrated compositions by Cesar Franck and Anton Bruckner.
The central work in the concert program was “Requiem” by Gabriel Fauré, a work that holds a distinct and beloved place in the history of The Crane School of Music. The great Nadia Boulanger conducted the piece three separate times as a guest conductor for the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra, after having studied composition with Fauré himself. The late Crane School of Music Dean Helen Hosmer loved the work so much that it was performed at her memorial service and the opening notes of the “Pie Jesu” movement are engraved on her tombstone.
The 2016 Crane School of Music performance at Carnegie Hall represents another milestone in long tradition of musical excellence at the College. This is the third time that a major Crane group has performed a full program at Carnegie. In 1941, Nadia Boulanger conducted the Crane Chorus in a joint performance with the New York Philharmonic-a performance that also included the Fauré “Requiem.” The Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra returned to Carnegie in 1952, at the invitation of Robert Shaw, to participate in his Choral Masterworks series. To learn more about the history of SUNY Potsdam and its Crane School of Music, visit www.potsdam.edu/200.
The partnership of the Dorothy Albrecht Gregory Visiting Conductor Fund, established by Dorothy Albrecht Gregory ’61, and the Adeline Maltzan Crane Chorus Performance Tour Fund, established by Dr. Gary C. Jaquay ’67, brings distinguished conductors to The Crane School of Music for festival performances by the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra, and travel funds for the Crane Chorus to perform at major venues outside of Potsdam.
About The Crane School of Music:
Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution. For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, please visit www.potsdam.edu/crane.
About SUNY Potsdam:
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges — and the oldest institution within SUNY. As the College marks its bicentennial in 2016, SUNY Potsdam will celebrate a 200-year legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and leadership in the arts. Empowered by a culture of creativity, the campus community is nearing the completion of Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam, which has already raised $33 million for scholarships and programs. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.