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Harper makes debut in fall choral concert
Posted Nov. 7, 2008
Stephanie Arellanes
Conductor Todd J. Harper talks with Marge Moh-Wei Chen-Hribar during the reception of Saturday night’s Fall Choral Concert, “Sure on This Shining Night.” This was the first combined performance of the University of La Verne’s Chamber Singers and the University Chorale under Harper’s direction. The performance, featuring 14 numbers, took place Nov. 1 at the La Verne Church of the Brethren.

The University of La Verne University Chorale and Chamber Singers were directed for the first time by Todd J. Harper, Nov. 1, at the La Verne Church of the Brethren.

The Fall Choral Concert, themed, “Sure on this Shining Night,” began a “wonderful year and time for the students and myself,” Harper said.

The assistant professor of music chose to bookend the concert with, “Sure on this Shining Night” by Samuel Barber in hopes of continuing the upbeat attitude of the choirs and to set a precedent for the rest of the concert series.

To Harper, the song is a “special poem set to music.”

The conductor wanted to convey that night can be something very different than what many think.

“Night can be something of joy rather than scary,” Harper said.

Taylor Duling, the choir’s social chair and a junior music education major, and Christopher Kaelberer, vice president and sophomore business administration major, were excited at the group’s last rehearsal before Saturday’s performance. They cited positive changes Harper brought to the music department.

“[Harper] has brought a new vibe to the choir,” Duling said. “He’s a very good motivator, and our sound has improved.”

“[Harper] has motivated us in different ways,” Kaelberer said. “He’s thinking of the choir too.”

Both of the chamber singers were looking forward to the concert’s theme song, “Sure on this Shining Night,” as well as “He’ll Make a Way,” by Bryon J. Smith.

Duling and Kaelberber were positive that the group’s power and talent would show through their excitement and joy for the two songs.

The audience and performers were full of excitement, especially during Chanel Kaufman’s solo in, “He’ll Make a Way.”

Kaufman’s uncle, Mark Kaufman, was thrilled to see her perform.

“Tonight has been great,” Kaufman said. “It’s really very special to see Chanel sing again.”

Ann and John Miller were also pleased to see their son Matthew Miller and daughter Danielle Miller sing as well. “It was a beautiful performance,” Miller said.

“Tonight very much shows the hard work they’ve put in,” Miller said of both her children.

Harper called the night one of “sharing oneself.”

That sharing is “a wonderful part of why I do this,” Harper said.

Before intermission, Harper introduced himself and told the audience he was thrilled to be at ULV because this is his first teaching position after receiving his doctorate from the University of Southern California.

The night was filled with songs chosen by Harper, each with significant meaning to him.

“This Marriage,” by Eric Whitacre, Harper dedicated to his wife on Saturday.

Harper’s passion is certainly conveyed through his choirs.

Before the performance, Duling said she was excited to perform, “This Marriage.” She, as well as other choral members, were aware of and affected by Harper’s enthusiasm.

With a proud group of students and singers, Harper said, “This thing we do is a nutritious thing. It feeds us.”

Scottish and Russian folk songs like, “Loch Lomond” and “Veniki” surprised and impressed audience members as many sat up straight and adjusted themselves for a better look at the ensemble and at soloist Michael Fausto.

Many songs were short, but each was delivered with great gusto and strength.

After the performance, Harper excitedly called the night a success and said that communication was the ensembles’ greatest strength.

Harper was happy to see the singers walk offstage with “chests up and heads held high.”

Grace Xia Zhao accompanied the ensembles on the piano.

Victoria Farlow can be reached at victoria.farlow@laverne.edu.

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