April 29 Concert to Honor Catharine Melhorn

Posted: April 10, 2006

More than 200 students and Mount Holyoke alumnae will participate in a gala spring concert Saturday, April 29, at 4 pm in Abbey Memorial Chapel. Called "Mark the Music," the concert takes its name from the title of a new work by Westfield resident Clifton J. Noble Jr., commissioned by Mount Holyoke's music department to honor Hammond-Douglass Professor of Music Catharine Melhorn, who is retiring from the College this spring after 36 years as choral director. Its text in praise of music, drawn from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, was, according to the composer, "an obvious choice for an individual who has dedicated her life, as Cathy has, to exquisite music-making." But the title will also remind the audience of the several other "Marks" prominent in this concert: conductor Mark Bartley, pianist Mark Gionfriddo, and poet Mark Van Doren, "along with the conductor's time-honored adjuration to choristers to 'mark the music.' "

The concert will showcase several different Mount Holyoke ensembles, performing a wide variety of musical styles. In good weather, the Five College West African Drum Ensemble will play outside as the audience gathers and will also perform during the concert. The orchestra's set includes "Gopak" from Mussorgsky's Fair at Sorochinski, "Nimrod" from Elgar's Enigma Variations, and the Maestoso/Finale of Saint Saens' Organ Symphony, featuring Mount Holyoke College organist Larry Schipull. The chorale will perform short works celebrating music and spring. In addition to Noble's "Mark the Music," the Glee Club will perform two settings of "This Is the Day"--one for double chorus in Latin by Renaissance composer Jacob Handl, the other in contemporary gospel style by Gerald T. Smith, featuring soloist Michelle Brooks, a Mount Holyoke senior and Amherst native.

The concert will conclude with a performance of one of the most significant compositions for women's chorus and orchestra, Elliott Carter's The Harmony of Morning. On a text by Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Mark Van Doren, this is also a work in praise of music: the melodies of nature, the emotional power of man-made musics--both instrumental and vocal--and finally a more cerebral music, the music of well-ordered words. Joining the undergraduate singers in this work will be 85 Mount Holyoke alumnae, returning to the College from as far away as San Francisco, Sweden, and Switzerland, and representing many generations of Melhorn's former students. Mount Holyoke faculty members Linda Laderach (violin), Kivie Cahn-Lipman (cello), and Gary Steigerwalt (piano) will join student instrumentalists for this final work.

Admission is free. For more information, contact Catharine Melhorn at x2018.

Related Links:

Music Department

Catharine Melhorn - Faculty Profile

Vespers 2005 Photo Gallery