By Randi Bjornstad
For its concert on April 7, the Eugene Vocal Arts and the Eugene Concert Orchestra have chosen a program called “With One Voice,” featuring “The Family of Man” by the late Oregon composer Jon Sutton, as well as classic pieces by American composers Eric Whitacre, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland and Randall Thompson.
The concert begins with Sutton’s “Silent Space,” offering a message of unity in its final line, “In the silent space between us, we are one.”
Artistic director and conductor Diane Retallack knew Sutton well — the composer died in 2004 — and intends that his music should soothe and unite those hearing it in times, such as now, of widespread national division and stress.
The performance fortuitously occurs in concert with the establishment of a private collection of Sutton’s work at the University of Oregon, bestowed by his widow, Ella Evers-Meinardi. The program includes “Your Blue Eyes,” an art song for vocalist and piano that Sutton wrote for Evers-Meinardi. It will be sung by Brent Anderson, a tenor with Eugene Vocal Arts.
The collection includes many of Sutton’s musical scores, photography, art and design and will be housed in the Special Collections and University Archives, where there will be an exhibit of some of the materials through spring term.
To carry on the them of seeking unity, the audience will join the Eugene Vocal Arts group in singing songs of peace and harmony, among them John Lennon’s, “Imagine.”
During the second part of the program, South Eugene High School singer Jane Brinkley will have her professional vocal debut, singing Sutton’s “The Family of Man.” Sutton’s composition was inspired by Edward Steichen’s exhibit of photographs by the same name, created for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The exhibit included more than 500 photographs from 68 countries that portrayed people of all ages, in all cultural and economic circumstances, and in relationship to their physical environment as well as nature. It also included quotations, poems and religious texts from a wide variety of world cultures.
With One Voice
When: 7:30 p.m. on April 7
Where: Beall Concert Hall, 961 E. 18th Ave., on the University of Oregon campus
Tickets: $24 to $28, available through the Hult Center ticket office, 541-682-5000, online at eugeneconcertchoir.org or at the door; online purchases include a service fee