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Women of Distinction choral ensemble performs Nov. 17

Part of Xavier Classics at Noon concert series

Chicago (Oct. 31, 2006) – The Xavier Classics at Noon Concert Series presents its third concert of the 2006-2007 season on Friday, Nov. 17, with a performance by Saint Xavier University’s Women of Distinction choral ensemble under the direction of Jan Bickel, D.M.A., director of vocal studies in the music department.  

The public and students, age 7 and above, are cordially invited to attend the performance, which will be in McGuire Hall. A $5 donation will be accepted at the door.

The 12 undergraduate women in the ensemble will present Johannes Brahms’ Four Songs for Women’s Chorus, Two Horns and Harp, accompanied by Peter Jirousek and Christine Worthing on French horns and harpist Reneé Wilson. The ensemble will also perform Gustav Holst’s Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, accompanied by Wilson and pianist Monica Kropidlowski.

Brahms’ well-loved Opus 17 set of songs features the sonority of female voices with horns and harp. The ethereal effect of the female voices combines with the dark, bronze tones of the French horns and is enriched by the broadly-spun arpeggios of the harp, setting the color of the texts for the songs in the work.

Holst is probably best known for his orchestral suite, The Planets, but this setting of his own translations from the original Sanskrit Rig Veda hymns is even more colorful. The Hindu Vedas are the oldest body of sacred texts in the world and are divided into four groups of which the Rig Veda is one, consisting for the most part of simple hymns, ritual chants and invocations. In the second and third groups presented at this concert, Holst creates an otherworldly sound as he combines women’s voices with harp or piano to beautifully portray the mood and meaning of these sacred texts.

A professor of music at Saint Xavier, Bickel is in her 24th year as director of vocal studies at Saint Xavier University, where she founded the University Chamber Singers and its offshoot Women of Distinction choral ensemble. Singers in the ensemble were chosen for their specific vocal color or particular musicianship. Under Bickel’s direction, the choral ensembles at SXU have gained recognition in the Chicago community for presenting a wide variety of musical styles and languages, from the chants of Hildegard of Bingen to the music of living contemporary composers. 

Wilson is a freelance harpist in the Chicago and northwest Indiana area, where she performs with the South Bend Symphony, the Illinois Philharmonic and the duo harp school show, “Harping on the Classics.” She is married to Peter Jirousek, who is also performing at the concert. Jirousek and Wilson and their two children live in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood. Worthing is a freelance French hornist in the Chicago area. An adjunct instructor of piano at Saint Xavier, Kropidlowski is well-known in the Beverly area as a piano instructor and is the organist/choir director at Church of the Holy Nativity in Beverly. 

Bickel founded the Xavier Classics at Noon Concert Series in 1994. Each noontime concert provides 50 minutes of fine classical music to the university and neighboring communities. Since 2005, the series has been supported by an Illinois Arts Council grant.

For more information, please contact the Saint Xavier University Music Department at (773) 298-3421.  


Contact the Saint Xavier University Music Department at (773) 298-3421  

Saint Xavier University, a Catholic institution inspired by the heritage of the Sisters of Mercy, educates men and women to search for truth, to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good.

Saint Xavier University Media Relations: 773-298-3937
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