2011-03-17 / Entertainment

Mercersburg Chorus Presents Haydn’s “The Creation”

The Mercersburg Area Community Chorus will present its spring concerts April 9 and 10 at the Mercersburg Academy Chapel. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. The 140-member chorus under the direction of Richard Rotz will be joined by soloists Alex Helsabeck, baritone; Colin Eaton, tenor; Mary Ellen Brennan, soprano; and a full orchestra, in a program featuring a staged version of Haydn’s “The Creation” and a work newly commissioned for the chorus by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo.

Baritone soloist Alex Helsabeck has worked with the chorus to present and stage “The Creation.” “I want to compare the splash of chaos in the beginning of the piece to what continues in the world today,” he says. “I feel that God is present in order and disorder, and that we therefore experience creation every day!” The chorus, representing the “Heavenly Hosts,” will don multicolored robes, and the soloists will be wearing costumes befitting a staged presentation, rather than a concert.

Originally from Winston- Salem, N.C., Helsabeck lives in Rehoboth Beach, Del. He is currently a member and soloist with The United States Army Chorus, and director of music and arts for The Episcopal Parish of All Saints’ Church and St. George’s Chapel. He is also the artistic director of the after school program for elementary children, Notebusters, in upper northwest Washington, D.C. Prior to The Army Chorus, he started his military career as member, section leader and soloist with The United States Air Force Singing Sergeants.

Colin Eaton, tenor, has been a featured soloist in “Carmina Burana,” Mendelssohn’s “St. Paul, Handel’s Messiah” and the Mozart Requiem; his opera credits include appearances as roles in “Porgy and Bess,” “The Abduction from the Seraglio and “Le Nozze di Figaro.” Along with Eaton’s stage performances, he was also selected to be a member of the crossover classical Decca recording artist group Vai Dacapo, which had sellout performances both in the United States and in Germany. As a member of the world- renowned United States Army Chorus, SFC Eaton frequently solos before our nation’s highestranking government and military officials.

Lyric soprano Mary Ellen Brennan has appeared with the Repertory Opera Theatre of Washington, The American Center for Puccini Studies, The Amalfi Coast Music Festival and The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. Her operatic repertoire includes roles in “La Boheme,” “ Don Giovanni,” “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Cosi fan tutte.” She was a member of the 7 Sopranos, an ensemble specializing in bringing operatic and musical theatre to life in a fun and exciting way.

An experienced concert singer, she has appeared as soprano soloist in “Messiah,” the world premier of Father Ralph Verdi’s “Magnificat,” Haydn’s “ Missa Brevis,” Bach cantatas, and Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols.”

Admission to the chorus’ concerts is free; a freewill offering will be taken. Seating at chapel is limited and no reserved seats; early arrival is recommended. For more information call 717-328-2324.

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