Feb. 7, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 9

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    Contemporary Chamber Players to perform PRAISE

    By Seth Sanders
    News Office

    The composition PRAISE, by Ralph Shapey, Professor Emeritus in Music, will be performed in a tribute concert by the Contemporary Chamber Players, Saturday, Feb. 16.

    A “radical traditionalist” who once withdrew his music from circulation because he was afraid people were not truly listening, Ralph Shapey, Professor Emeritus in Music, has always been a staunch supporter of new music, having founded the Contemporary Chamber Players to provide it with more outlets.

    The Contemporary Chamber Players will now pay tribute to Shapey with a performance of his composition PRAISE at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    Shapey is one of the University’s most important musical figures. Born in Philadelphia in 1921, he has been active in music since his youth. He was appointed Youth Conductor of the Philadelphia National Youth Administration Symphony Orchestra when he was 17. By the age of 9, he already had tried his hand at composition, and by his 20s he was composing seriously.

    In his conducting career, Shapey has led many ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta, with whom he recorded his Rituals for Orchestra.

    Well-known as a conductor, he was the founder and music director of the Contemporary Chamber Players, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1989. While having once served on the music faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, it was Shapey’s celebrated years as a Professor in Music at Chicago where his work as a teacher had its greatest impact.

    Shapey received a MacArthur fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1982; the First Prize in the Kennedy Center Friedheim Competition in 1990; a commission from the Philadelphia Orchestra for the bicentennial of the Constitution in 1987 (Symphonie Concertante); a commission from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a work to mark the centennials of both the orchestra and the University, which premiered in 1991 (Concerto Fantastique); and two commissions from the Library of Congress. He was a distinguished professor of music at Queens College in New York City in 1985.

    The performers and conductor are similarly distinguished. Conductor Carmen Helena TÈllez was born in 1955 in Caracas, Venezuela, where she completed conservatory studies in piano and composition. After traveling to the United States to study on a fellowship, she earned her Ph.D. in music from Indiana University in 1988. She is now associate professor of choral conducting at Indiana University and director of the Indiana University Latin American Music Center and the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble.

    Soloist Howard Swyers, a rising young singer, is equally comfortable with opera and contemporary music, having already appeared in eight opera roles. He is completing his master’s degree in voice performance at Indiana University.

    The PRAISE composition, which borrows text from both the Old Testament and the Union Prayer Book, has a long history at the University. In 1976, Shapey conducted the Contemporary Chamber Players in its first complete performance of the oratorio at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    During this year’s performance, Shapey and renowned theologian Martin Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School, will discuss the “creative process.” Ticket prices are $15 (student price $8, with valid ID). To obtain further information or to purchase tickets, please phone (773) 702-8068 or visit http://music.uchicago.edu/ccp.shtml.

    Rockefeller Memorial Chapel is at 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave., on the University campus. People with disabilities or who are in need of assistance should phone (773) 702-8068 prior to the event.