Fund-raiser for New Orleans' Xavier University and concert featuring work by retiring faculty composer headline April concerts

Fund-raiser for New Orleans’ Xavier University and concert featuring work by retiring faculty composer headline April concerts

The University of St. Thomas Music Department welcomes the public to the free music performances listed below. All will be held on the university’s St. Paul campus unless listed otherwise. For additional information, call (651) 962-5850.

  • 8 p.m. Monday, April 3, in Brady Educational Center auditorium:  The annual Festival Orchestra concert features St. Thomas music students performing with members of area professional orchestras. Student soloists include Tara Beck, flute; Amy Gleason, piano; Mary Larson, voice; and John Pohland, trumpet. The program features music by Reinecke, Mozart, Purcell and Albinoni. Dr. Matthew George, director of bands at St. Thomas, conducts.
  • 8 p.m. Friday, April 7, in Brady Educational Center auditorium: A faculty recital features Nickolai Kolarov, a studio instructor of cello at St. Thomas, and pianist Ora Itkin.
  • 3 p.m. Sunday, April 9, in Brady Educational Center auditorium: A faculty recital by Dr. Alan Bryan, voice, and Dr. Christopher Kachian, guitar, features “Six Songs for Voice and Guitar,” a 1989 work by Dr. James Callahan, a prolific composer who has taught at St. Thomas for 38 years and is retiring this year. The concert also will include works by Ravel and Brahms.

Born in Fargo, N.D., and raised in Albany, Minn., Callahan earned his bachelor’s degree in music from St. John’s University in Collegeville in 1964 and went on to study at the Vienna Academy of Music; he earned a master of fine arts and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He pursued additional studies at and the Salzburg Mozarteum. He joined the St. Thomas faculty in 1968 and was named a full professor in 1983. At least two generations of St. Thomas student composers, pianists and organists have benefited from his tutelage.

James Callahan

Callahan has written more than 150 works in many genres: operas, concertos, symphonies, chamber music and orchestral and organ works.  He has performed throughout the Upper Midwest and in Austria and New York. His compositions have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and many St. Thomas ensembles and other groups. Minnesota Public Radio listeners have heard many of his recitals and compositions.

Some of Callahan’s compositions include “Tetraptych,” composed for the College of St. Thomas centennial in 1985; “Metamorphosis,” an overture written for the Pueblo (Ariz.) Symphony Orchestra’s 1973 Mozart Festival; and two operas premiered at St. Thomas ’ Sacred Arts Festival – “Processions” in 1996 and “Sanctuary” in 2003.

Callahan's “Symphony No. 2” was premiered by the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra in 1976. That work, for orchestra, chorus and baritone solo, was derived from portions of Markings, the posthumously published diary of reflections by 1961 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dag Hammarskjöld, the Swedish diplomat who was secretary general of the United Nations from 1953 until his death in a plane crash in 1961. Callahan’s symphony was one of the first pieces of music to be placed in the UN’s Dag Hammarskjöld Library.

Callahan’s “Cantata” for two choirs, brass, percussion and organ premiered at St. John’s Abbey Church and was performed at the Cathedral of St. Paul in 1975. His “Requiem” premiered in 1990 in St. Thomas’ guest organist series, played by Leonard Raver, who then was organist for the New York Philharmonic.

Callahan himself performed often with his first cousin, Katherine Faricy, who also teaches at St. Thomas, as a two-piano team and also has been a frequent recitalist on the Gabriel Kney organ in the St. Thomas chapel. His affinity for the organ is well known, and his organ recitals have been heard frequently on American Public Media’s nationally broadcast “Pipedreams” program, hosted by Minnesota Public Radio’s classical music host, Michael Barone.

  • 2 p.m. Saturday, April 22, in Brady Educational Center auditorium: Student Amy Hoops gives a flute recital.
  • 1 p.m. Sunday, April 23, in Brady Educational Center auditorium: Student Kristi Ahlberg, cellist, gives a recital.
  • 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 23, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas: The St. Thomas Liturgical Choir, with celebrated Twin Cities gospel singer Robert Robinson and guest performers, give a concert to benefit Xavier University, a historically African American university in New Orleans.

Xavier’s music department suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina. Not only were its instruments destroyed, but its choir robes and sheet music were lost.  There is no admission fee for the concert, but “mega free-will” offerings will be accepted at the door, according to UST Liturgical Choir Director Robert Strusinski. “We’d love to send Xavier a sizeable check.”

Donations for Xavier also will be taken before the concert. Checks can be made out to “ Xavier University” and sent in care of Robert Strusinski, Mail 4039, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105.

A special guest at the concert will be Dr. Malcolm Breda, professor emeritus and former choir director of Xavier. Breda conducted the Xavier Choir during its tour performance at St. Thomas in the early 1980s. One of the choir members at that time, John Ware, now chairs Xavier’s music department and directs the choir there.

The concert program will feature a multicultural mix of praise music: an opening call to worship from Mozambique, African American spirituals, gospel music and “ Americana ” hymn tunes. Some of the guest performers at the concert include guitarist Christopher Kachian and soprano Krystal Banfield, both of whom teach at St. Thomas, and singer Lori True, liturgy and music coordinator for campus ministry at the College of St. Catherine.

  • 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, in Brady Educational Center auditorium: Guitarist Stephen Morgan gives a faculty recital.
  • 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, in Brady Educational Center auditorium: UST’s African Music Ensemble, conducted by Sowah Mensah, gives a concert.
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquin as: Student Tara Beck gives a flute recital.
  • 7 p.m. Sunday, April 30, in Brady Educational Center auditorium: The fourth annual “Balkanicus” concert of contemporary Balkan chamber music includes works by Georgi Arnoudov, Velislav Zaimov and Emil M
    irtchev of Bulgaria; Dorian Cene of Albania and Crt Sojar Voglar of Slovenia.

    Musicians include cellist Kolarov, a studio instructor at St. Thomas who also organizes the concert each year, and Adam Kuenzel, flute; Basil Reeve, oboe; Roderick Kettlewell, piano and harpsichord; Patrick O'Keefe, clarinet, and Mary Larson, voice.