University Chorus to sing ‘The Fountain’ by Evan Mack at memorial service Nov. 14

Marshall University’s Chorus will be performing a special piece written specifically for Marshall at the 2012 memorial service for victims of the 1970 plane crash. Performing with the chorus will be Dr. Evan Mack, who composed the work.

Mack, a composer, pianist and member of the faculties of Skidmore College and the College of St. Rose, was an artist-in-residence in 2009, giving master classes and concerts.

“The Fountain” is a work that Evan Mack composed for Marshall students, according to  Robert Wray, director of the University Chorus. It was premiered by the Marshall University Chorus last  spring.

The memorial service, an annual observance to honor the 75 persons who lost their lives in the 1970 plane crash, will take place this year at noon Wednesday, Nov. 14, on the Memorial Student Center plaza.

Mack says he found inspiration for the piece in a poem written by 19th Century poet James Russell Lowell, also called “The Fountain.”

“Musically it was quite freeing to set the text where the music symbolizes the continuing of life, flowing into each generation,” Mack said. “This made it a perfect fit to connect the piece to the Marshall community, rather than just the fountain. The piece is meant to connect students past and present, just like the water circulated through the fountain. This ceremony gives a special connection to students of all generations, something that most colleges and universities can’t claim.”

“I was asked to write a new piece, as both the University Chorus and the Chamber Choir were doing a joint concert featuring my music in spring 2012,” Mack said. “Having worked with the choirs before, I knew how well they could sing. It took a long time to find the right text; then I found the poem by James Russell Lowell.”

Along with premiering “The Fountain,” the University Chorus has also premiered Mack’s “Langston Hughes’ Dream of Freedom,” and two of Mack’s other pieces. The Chamber Choir premiered his piece “Of Fire and Form.”

Mack said his hope for the piece is that it would be something special for the students to premiere a work that was written for them, and that he hopes future choirs can sing this work and feel connected.

In addition to performing with the chorus, Mack will be meeting with students and rehearsing with them while he is at Marshall.

“I am honored that my piece will be sung at this year’s ceremony,” Mack said. “I am even more excited that I will be playing piano with the chorus at the memorial.”