Antonín Dvořák's Mass in D will be performed live in concert under the direction of Elizabeth Slade with the Ashland Area Chorus (AAC) and several guest soloists including organist Susan Gregg, mezzo-sopranos Denise Milner Howell and Sandra Ross, tenor Tim Johnson and baritone Brian Keith Johnson. The concert will be held on Sunday, November 13 at 4 p.m. in the Jack and Deb Miller Chapel at Ashland University. The performance is free and open to the public with a freewill offering accepted to benefit the Sandy Brown Honorary Vocal Music Teacher Mini-Grant Fund through the Ashland County Community Foundation.
The concert will showcase Dvořák's original composition for vocal soloists, choir and organ which was published in 1887. The piece was written at the request of Josef Hlávka, founder of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Art, for the consecration of his new chapel that was built at his castle in Lužany in Western Bohemia. Because of the small size of the Lužany chapel, the Mass was written for an intimate space with an organ instead of an orchestra. In addition, Dvořák wrote it for a modest presentation in a more lyrical and prayerful arrangement than dramatic. It also reflected his love of nature and the tranquil countryside surrounding Hlávka's castle through the folk inspired movements. The work observes the customary parts of the Catholic Ordinary of the Mass including Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei.
In her fourth year as the Ashland Area Chorus director, Slade also teaches musicianship courses at Ashland University, and serves with her husband, Peter Slade, in leading worship music at Ashland First United Methodist Church. She holds a B.A. in Music and French from the University of Virginia and an M.Ed. from Harvard University where she studied choral conducting and served as choral administrator for the Harvard Choirs. During her time at Harvard, she was a member of the professional Choir of the Church of the Advent in Boston and a soprano soloist in and around the Boston area. Slade went on to direct the Virginia Women’s Chorus at the University of Virginia and has studied voice and performed with choirs in Virginia, New England and London, UK. In 2009, Slade recruited and directed the hundred-voice Kroc Center Dedication Chorus for the opening of the Salvation Army’s new community center.
In its eighteenth season, the AAC was founded by Dr. Rowland Blackley, director of choral activities at Ashland University. The ensemble is dedicated to a mission of learning great music and singing it beautifully. With over 60 members this fall, the chorus is open to all singers from Ashland and surrounding counties and includes Ashland University faculty, staff and students as well as other singers from the wider community. The chorus sings on programs with the Ashland University Choir and performs annually with the Ashland Symphony Orchestra. New members are always welcome and are invited to the Monday evening rehearsals held at 7 p.m. in Room 242 of the Center for the Arts at Ashland University.