June 11, 2019
Walsh University’s Division of Fine & Performing Arts Chair Britt Cooper, Ph.D., and 35 members of the Canton Symphony Chorus took the stage for the first time at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall to perform the Dona Nobis Pacem of Ralph Vaughan Williams on Monday, June 10, in New York City.
Assembled on the Carnegie Hall stage was a massed chorus of more than 150 voices, drawn from ensembles in three states, led by two conductors and in one major masterpiece of choral music.
Dr. Britt Cooper was one of those conductors, making his Carnegie Hall debut along with the Canton Symphony Chorus, of which he has been Director for the last eight seasons, and which also will be making its Carnegie Hall debut. Joining Dr. Cooper in the performance was Lisa Madaffer, accompanist for the Walsh choral program, and three Walsh alumni members of the Chorus -- Christa Capper, Kathleen Moore, and Abbie Wright.
“The Canton Symphony Chorus has never traveled outside of northeast Ohio to perform, so to make its first touring performance at Carnegie Hall will be a tremendous blessing to all,” said Dr. Cooper. “Personally, my only other Carnegie performance experience was as a chorister under the direction of Robert Shaw in 1993. To return as a conductor is a dream come true.”
The Canton Symphony Chorus sang alongside members of the following ensembles:
- Bangor Area High School Choir, Bangor, PA (Joseph DiMInico, Director)
- Southern Kentucky Choral Society, Bowling Green, KY (Paul Hondorp, Director)
Dr. Cooper led the final two movements of Dona Nobis Pacem by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, with Paul Hondorp conducting the first three. They were joined in the performance, part of MidAmerica Productions’ 36th concert season, by Robyn Marie Lamp, soprano soloist; Jason Duika, baritone soloist; and the New England Symphonic Ensemble.
Vaughan Williams composed Dona Nobis Pacem in the uneasy years leading to the start of World War II, a plea for peace in a time of turmoil. The composer thought of the work as an English counterpart to Verdi’s Requiem. The text is assembled from several different sources, ranging from the Catholic mass to the poetry of Walt Whitman and – perhaps the only time this had ever been done – a speech delivered in the House of Commons of the British Parliament.
Britt Cooper, Conductor
Dr. Britt Cooper is the Chair of Fine and Performing Arts and Director of Choral Activities at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. He directs two university choral ensembles: the Walsh University Chorale and the Walsh Chamber Singers, an auditioned touring ensemble. He holds a Doctorate in Choral Conducting from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Alabama.
Under his direction, the Chamber Singers have toured extensively throughout Ohio and have traveled to Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, and Ontario, Canada. In 2018 the ensemble traveled to Italy, performing for Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and at major churches and concert venues throughout Rome, Assisi, and Florence.
Dr. Cooper also serves as Director of Choruses for the Canton Symphony Orchestra. In that role, he has conducted several large works, including Haydn’s Paukenmesse in 2019, and has prepared choruses for many major works from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 to Orff’s Carmina Burana.
About Canton Symphony Chorus – Britt Cooper, Director
The Canton Symphony Chorus was founded in 1984 as a volunteer adult ensemble. Its first performance with the Canton Symphony Orchestra was Handel’s Messiah in December of that year. Since then, the chorus has performed major choral works with Music Director Gerhardt Zimmermann and the orchestra including the Brahms, Berlioz, Mozart and Verdi Requiems, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia Antarcticaand Dona Nobis Pacem, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Barber of Seville by Rossini, Handel’s Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances.