April 28, 2014 , BY Kathryn Kopchik

The 40-voice Bucknell University Rooke Chapel Choir and 50 choir alumni will travel to Salzburg, Vienna and Prague May 19-28. The choir will sing at the Great Hall, Mozarteum in Salzburg; Pfarrkirche in St. Gilgen; Melk Abbey (en route to Vienna); St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna; and the Church of the Holy Saviour and Dvorak Hall in Prague.

Music that the Choir will be singing on this tour includes Schubert's Mass in G and Ola Gjeilo's Sunrise Mass with string orchestra, "With What Shall I Come Before the Lord" by conductor William Payn, and several traditional African-American spirituals.

The choir, directed by William A. Payn, director of choral studies, has gained international recognition for its creative interpretations of some of the most significant 20th-century American sacred repertory. The choir's select members represent every major field of study at Bucknell, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, business administration, education and engineering.

The choir's popular Candlelight Service of Carols attracts capacity crowds to Rooke Chapel for three performances every December. Periodically since 1987, a PBS production of this annual holiday service has received national distribution by the Central Education Television Network. The production has received the Iris Award and was nominated for an Emmy in 1996, 2004, and 2011.

In April 1988, the choir participated in the premiere of Handel's Imeneo at a sold-out concert in New York City's Merkin Concert Hall. The choir also has performed with London's contemporary-music ensemble Electric Phoenix and has performed in a concert version of Handel's opera Acis and Galatea with the Brewer Chamber Orchestra.

Other notable performances include Copland's In the Beginning for the Eastern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, and the premiere performance of William Duckworth's Southern Harmony at New York's Merkin Hall with the Gregg Smith Singers.

William A. PaynWILLIAM A. PAYN
William Payn has achieved prominence as a conductor and composer. As Director of Choral Studies at Bucknell University, he has for the past 30 years led his choirs to international recognition for their creative interpretation of significant choral literature of the past five centuries. His choirs have performed all over the world, including concert tours in England, Wales, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, West Germany, Spain, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Italy, Croatia, Argentina and Uruguay.

The Chapel Choir was invited to sing at Manchester Cathedral in the UK in May 2010. Following their stay in Manchester, the choir continued on to Greece for a week-long concert tour with performances in Athens, Nauplia and Patras. Both his Rooke Chapel Choir and University Concert Chorale have sung at conventions of the American Choral Directors Association. Bucknell's popular annual Candlelight Service of Carols, featuring Payn's Chapel Choir and Rooke Chapel Ringers, has been taped and repeatedly televised nationally by PBS since 1988 and was nominated for an Emmy in 1996, 2004 and 2011. Five compact discs featuring his Rooke Chapel Choir have been recorded on Lovely Music and Albany labels. With the recent completion of several commissioned works, Payn has more than 40 published compositions, including a 2009 publication, "This Day," which was written for the Rooke Chapel Choir and dedicated in honor of the ministry of former Bucknell University Chaplain, The Reverend Ian B. Oliver. His newest choral publication, "On This Day Earth Shall Ring," was premiered at the Bucknell Candlelight Services in December 2011. Payn's works are performed virtually every week in the United States and abroad.

Payn received his Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College and his Doctor of Musical Arts in organ and harpsichord literature from West Virginia University. As a member of the American Choral Directors Association, Payn has served as Pennsylvania state president. Information about him appears in two reference publications: Contemporary American Composers: A Biographical Dictionary and Who's Who in American Music: Classical. In 1987, he was presented with the Harriman Award for contributions to the intellectual life of Bucknell University, and in 1994 he received the Bucknell University Cook Award, given annually to a member of the faculty to promote creative travel. In May 1996, his undergraduate alma mater presented him with the Westminster Choir College Distinguished Alumni Merit Award. In June 2001, Bucknell University awarded Payn the "Class of '56 Lectureship," the highest award granted by the university for inspirational teaching. In August 2009 Payn received The Elaine Brown Award for Choral Excellence from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association for outstanding lifelong work in the choral art.  Payn also has served as Music Director and Conductor of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale and Orchestra for 15 years.

This is Payn's final concert tour with the Rooke Chapel Choir. In retirement, he will continue to serve as a frequent guest conductor and clinician, write choral and handbell music, and conduct the Susquehanna Valley Chorale and Orchestra with four major performances each season. Along with his wife, Ruth, he will enjoy visiting their children and seven grandchildren, world travel, and relaxing in the quiet countryside on their organic farm along Penns Creek in rural Central Pennsylvania. The 600-acre farm, named Walnut Acres, is America's original organic farm with continuous growing of organic crops since 1946.

 


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