Frederick Chorale director Nancy Roblin has taken the phrase “Joy to the World” to heart with her upcoming Earth Concert.
On Sunday, the chorale will perform at Evangelical Lutheran Church for an earth-themed concert showcasing pieces both joyful and introspective. Works by composers from Brahms to William L. Dawson will be performed.
“It’s a big celebration about the earth and how we feel about her nature,” Roblin says. “Toward the end we get a little serious. We sing a very difficult piece called ‘In The Heart of the World.’ Basically, the message is if we don’t change and start taking care of the world, there will be nobody left to sing our songs.”
The concert will be preceded by an organ rendition of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” by Elizabeth Krouse.
Among the pieces featured in the concert is Aaron Copland’s musical interpretation of the first book of the Bible, titled “In the Beginning.”
“Aaron Copland took ‘Genesis’ and wrote this haunting piece. It’s really a stunner and we’re featuring Lisa Dodson,” Roblin says. “She’s the soprano soloist in the chorus and she really sings his setting of the words of Genesis, ‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.’”
The night also will feature some multimedia elements, including a video and slide show.
“There are several slide shows that we’re putting together,” Roblin says. “For example, there’s a piece by Brahms called ‘Beautiful Night,’ so we have a lot of photos of beautiful nights.”
Chorale member Bill Eyler’s “Welcome Spring!” also will be featured. Eyler, who has performed with the group for 13 years, also wrote the lyrics for the piece.
“I’ll get up in the middle of the night and write something down ... and years later, I’ll pull that out and see this thing that I’ve forgotten about and [can] possibly use as the theme of starting a piece,” Eyler says. “In this case, I did the words and the music, and it talks about the rebirth of nature and of people, especially, because people kind of hibernate.”
Based on spirituals, the song was recorded by the chorale for an album, but will be performed at an event for the first time on Sunday.
“I think it’s something that is a good theme for a nature concert and Nancy Roblin was kind enough to allow me to do this,” Eyler says. “It’s ... just for women. It’s a very simple piece. It’s almost unison all the way through.”
The earth concert, which closes with a sing-along version of “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands,” also will mark the final performance for Roblin, who helped launch the chorale and has been working with the group before they were incorporated in 1977.
Martha Jones joined the chorale in 1985 with her husband and says Roblin has been instrumental in the group’s success.
“[It’s] grown in size for one thing. And because Nancy, our director, is a very, very accomplished musician with background … she was able to build up the group,” Jones says. “And we’ve done some tours overseas and we’ve done things with orchestras.”
In addition to being a good leader, Roblin has been a close friend, Jones says.
“It will be a very emotional event because we all have known her for so long and she is like a member of the family. Her husband sings in the chorale, so they’ve been very, very good friends,” Jones says.
After so many years leading the chorale, Roblin says it is time for new blood to come in. With more of her time opened up, she has several plans.
“I have many other interests and one of them is I’ve started writing my first novel and there’s several novels in my head. And I’m very interested in gardening and sailing and cooking and swimming and travel,” Roblin says.
Still, Roblin plans to attend future chorale events. For the chorale, the Earth just keeps spinning.
“I think it definitely is time for a younger person with new ideas to take the helm, and the chorale is a wonderful organization so I’m looking forward to it,” Roblin says. “I’m going to be one of their biggest supporters.”