A Confluence of Musicians

Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra to perform Orff work alongside new choir

Lea Kopke, photos by Andrea Paulseth

ALL TOGETHER NOW. Jerry Hui, an assistant professor of music at UW-Stout, directs the newly formed Chippewa Valley Festival Choir, which will perform May 18.
ALL TOGETHER NOW. Jerry Hui, an assistant professor of music at UW-Stout, directs the newly formed Chippewa Valley Festival Choir, which will perform May 18.

The opening movement of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana sets the scene for dramatic moments across film and tv history, from the 1981 film Excalibur to episodes of American Horror Story.

On May 18, Carmina Burana will ring out on the stage of the Pablo Center at the Confluence as the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra partners with the new Chippewa Valley Festival Choir for the finale of the symphony orchestra’s 45th season entitled “A Confluence of Artists.”

The concert, “In Dynamic Company,” will feature the CVSO performing pieces by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky in the opening half, and will conclude with Carmina Burana, performed alongside the choir, in the second half.

Nobu Yasuda, who has worked with the orchestra for 26 years, will conduct the concert. He said the CVSO is excited to premiere a performance alongside a choir, a feat that has only become feasible due to the opening of the Pablo Center. Nationally-acclaimed guest vocal soloists will highlight the performance.

“I really feel that because of (the Pablo Center) ... our doors are really open to the world,” Yasuda said.

The CVFC, which was formed for the purpose of the concert, is being lead by Jerry Hui, an assistant professor of music at UW-Stout. Many of the singers are members of various choirs within the Chippewa Valley, so he was excited to unite the choral community within one group for the first time.

“There are a lot of choral activities in Eau Claire and beyond, but there hasn’t seemed to be a more centralized effort in bringing everyone together,” Hui said. “It’s really fun to see singers from different singing communities start talking to one another, get to know each other, kind of cross paths a little.”

Hui said the process of putting together a choir has gone quite smoothly, as its members have been taking time outside of rehearsals to study the piece, which is sung in Latin and Old German. During each rehearsal, Hui said, Yasuda has been present to watch as the choir forms together.

Yasuda said after watching Hui conduct rehearsals, he was sure that Hui would do a good job in preparing the choir. Through the fun of rehearsals, Hui said he’s seen the choir form together as a community, and is excited to bring that to the stage alongside a full orchestra.

“This will be a really wonderful opportunity to bring so many different musicians from various singing and musical communities together under one roof,” Hui said. “It’s really a great punctuation point to the Pablo Center’s first season.”

Since he first moved to Eau Claire, in 1991, Yasuda said he has recognized how special the area is when it comes to culture and music. He said initially he was surprised to learn that the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra already existed, and that the community put an event like  the Viennese Ball every year.

“A small community like Eau Claire is expected to be somewhat conservative,” Yasuda said. “But now I really understand that some kind of effort and passion for arts existed underneath. I always felt something was there.”

With the CVSO’s last performance of the season coming up at the Pablo Center, and with such an impressive program, Yasuda said he feels as if his dream for the Eau Claire music scene is at long last becoming reality.

“It had been a dream to have this concert hall,” he said. “But 20 years ago, there was not many supporters. They told me it was never going to happen. I just cannot believe that I’m in the hall right now. It is a great feeling that we came such a long way.”

The Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra’s final concert of the 44th season, “In Dynamic Company,” will be held in the RCU Theatre at the Pablo Center on May 18 at 7:30pm. Tickets start at $10 for youth/students and $25 for adults and can be purchased online at pablocenter.org.