Annual concert brings out current, former music school students

November 03, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With its high, arched windows and lofty ceiling, historic Thomson Hall at Wilson College on U.S. 11 was the perfect setting for a Sunday afternoon concert.

Students, alumni and faculty of the Cumberland Valley School of Music provided an afternoon of music at the school's 14th annual Gala Concert.

Headquartered at Wilson College, CVSM has 600 students and 53 faculty members who perform frequently in the area.

President of CVSM's Board of Directors S. Eugene Herritt welcomed concertgoers on "this summer afternoon, which is enhanced by our performers."


Emcee Bernie Pitkin introduced Jeff Noll and Wayne Mowrey as "two of our favorite performers." They opened the program with a rendition of a popular sacred tune, "Let All Things Now Living (Ash Grove)" with Noll, piano teacher at CVSM, on the piano and Mowrey on the pipe organ. Mowrey, 80, is well-known in the area for his musical talent, and now makes brief appearances at concerts. He is a former CVSM board member.

Faculty members Mike Hoover on clarinet, Suzanne Thierry on flute and Valerie Merriman on piano played "Sarabande," a dance by turn-of-the-century American composer Arthur Foote.

Jaime Wetzel and Lawra Gudgeon, Merit Scholarship students of Thierry and Noll, performed Peer Gynt Suite 1, Opus 46, "Allegretto Pastorale," on two grand pianos, filling the hall with majestic sound.

Faculty member Leah Beshore followed with Violin Sonata, Opus 78, accompanied on the piano by Julia Emig, who has taught at the school since its inception.

Katie Bradley, 21, daughter of Maribeth and David Bradley of Chambersburg, performed two old music-theater tunes, "And This is My Beloved" from "Kismet" and "Art is Calling for Me" from "The Enchantress," to sustained applause. A senior at Shenandoah University's Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va., Bradley said she will audition soon in Tennessee in front of representatives of tours, cruise ships and amusement parks.

"You have 90 seconds to show what you can do," she said after the concert. She studied voice with Margaret Weeks at CVSM.

Soprano Paula Hepfer, voice teacher, performed the haunting "A Letter from Sullivan Ballou." The lyrics are a letter written by a Civil War soldier to his wife, who received it after his death in the Battle of Antietam.

From the balcony of the hall, four faculty members played two Jewish wedding songs, "Erev Shel Shoshaniim" and "Od Yishama II."

Guitar teacher Tresa Paul followed with her original composition, "Shine."

Pitkin introduced tenor Corey Evan Rotz as "perhaps our most celebrated returnee." Rotz, who performed at the first gala 14 years ago, sang "Granada" by Agustin Lara, and was accompanied by Susan Rowe Gable. Rotz studied with Weeks at CVSM, and she "continues to be an influence," he said after the concert.

Born and raised in Franklin County, Pa., Rotz performs with The Washington Opera, the resident company of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He said he is in rehearsals now, but was able to take a day off to perform for CVSM.

Rotz added that he enjoys returning to Chambersburg to perform.

"I come back as much as possible. I promised that if I could, I would," he said.

The concert concluded with two selections by the CVSM Concert Jazz Band, directed by David Wenerd.

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