Performers

  • Andrew Neer
    Andrew Neer
    Music Director & Conductor

    American conductor, Andrew Neer, was born in Tucker, Georgia and currently resides in Grosse Pointe, Michigan with his wife, Mary Lynn. He is quickly becoming known for his dynamic and expressive conducting style. His focus has been to educate and expand appreciation of music. He believes that at the heart of everything, music is the soul of America and provides transformative experiences for those performing and participating in the audience.

    Living in Michigan for most of his life, he is thrilled to join the Macomb Symphony Orchestra family. He attended Central Michigan University (CMU) studying Composition, Trumpet and Music Theatre Performance. Following his time at CMU, he obtained two Master of Music degrees in Composition and Conducting, respectively, from Wayne State University, Detroit MI. His composition experience ranges from that of the art song to film scores.

    In the summer 2013, he was invited to conduct Verdi’s La Traviata for Michigan Opera Theatre’s community programs, receiving high acclaim. In early 2016, he embarked on an international conducting career, appearing with orchestras in Romania and Bulgaria. He is honored to study privately with orchestral conductor & mentor Kenneth Kiesler. In the Fall of 2020, Andrew began Doctoral Studies in Orchestral Conducting at the world-renown University of Michigan. In addition to working with orchestras, Mr. Neer has been honored to lead choruses and conduct operas in and around Metropolitan Detroit.

  • Oakland Choral Society
    Chorus
  • Goitsemang Oniccah Lehobye
    Goitsemang Oniccah Lehobye
    Soprano

    Goitsemang Lehobye was born in Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa and first heard opera performed during a television broadcast featuring the South African Black Tie Opera Ensemble. After finishing school she followed her dream by joining the Black Tie Ensemble’s “Incubator” Scheme where she began learning the tools of the trade of being an opera singer. She worked her way from chorus member to ensemble and solo work and performed in a number of opera productions.

    In 2011 Goitsemang won a scholarship to study singing with Hanna van Niekerk and Prof Kamal Khan at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. Productions include La Boheme, Postcards from Morocco, Don Giovanni and most recently, Violetta in the joint UCT/Cape Town Opera production of La Traviata to great acclaim. She was invited as guest soloist in opera galas featuring Johan Botha and Neil Schicoff. She often performs as soloist with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and in October 2015 she premiered a new song cycle by South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, conducted by Perry So. In December 2015 she was invited to perform in a new opera by David Earl in Cambridge, England. 2016 highlights included singing as soloist for Opera Galas with renowned tenor Johan Botha in Cape Town and Johannesburg and touring to Argentina as Serena in the Cape Town Opera production of Porgy and Bess.

    Goitsemang moved to the USA at the beginning of 2017 to continue her studies at the University of Michigan with Professor Daniel Washington. She has already appeared in the two of their productions, The difficulty of crossing a field by David Lang and Dinner at eight by William Bolcom. Goitsemang won the University of Michigan Friends of the opera Anna Chapekis award 2017. She also performed in a new production of the Ira Gershwin version of Porgy and Bess with the University of Michigan Musical Society. Specific Highlights for 2018 included the invitation to return to South Africa to sing in the Passion for Opera celebrating the life and work of Angelo Gobbato alongside a host of
    internationally recognized South African singers, as well as singing in Mahler’s 2nd symphony for the reopening of the City Hall in Cape Town. She was also the chosen soloist for the first ever tour of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra to South Africa where she premiered a new work by Bongani Ndodana Breen – Harmonia Ubuntu. Performances took place in Minnesota as well as across South Africa and also included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

    Goitsemang completed her Master of voice performance in 2018 and started her Specialist in voice performance degree in 2019 at the University of Michigan, USA. Her 2019 highlights include her return to the Minnesota orchestra for their summer season performing Bachianas brasileiras No 5. – Victor Villa Lobos and Osvaldo Golijov’s Three songs for soprano and orchestra, and their winter season performing Dona nobis by Vaughan Williams. She also performed the role of Mimi from La boheme with the University of Michigan to critical acclaim. In 2021, Goitsemang was offered a position to pursue her studies at the University of Michigan. That same year she performed in many concerts and sang the role of Miranda Parker from the opera, Rise for Freedom by Adolphus Hailstork.

  • Justin Berkowitz
    Justin Berkowitz
    Tenor

    Known for his “exacting and animating performances”, Chicago-based Tenor Justin Berkowitz’ 2023-24 includes performances with Chicago Opera Theater as Chief of Police in Shostakovich’s The Nose, Thespis and Mercure in their slated performances of Platee, and a return to Haymarket Opera Company for Alcina. His 2022-23 season featured performances of L’incornazione di Poppea with Haymarket Opera Company as Arnalta and Nutrice and turns as Mayor Upfold in Albert Herring and as Steve Todd/Arnold Murray in the world-premiere of The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing, both with Chicago Opera Theater. On the concert stage, the season brought performances of Handel’s Messiah with Niles Philharmonic, and his debut with Rockford Symphony Orchestra and Nielson Chorale for their Carmina Burana. In 2021 Berkowitz returned to Chicago Opera Theater’s mainstage for their premiere of Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus. During their 2020-21 virtual season, Berkowitz appeared in Chicago Opera Theater’s productions of Taking up Serpents and premiered the role of Gil in Matthew Recio’s The Puppy Episode. The 2019-2020 season brought debut performances of Carmina Burana with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Brazos Valley Symphony in Texas, among others. Recent seasons have seen Berkowitz on the operatic stage in productions with Central City Opera, Haymarket Opera, Opera Naples, Opera on the James, DuPage Opera Theater and St. Petersburg Opera, among others. Berkowitz has appeared onstage as tenor soloist in Carmina Burana with Chicago Philharmonic, Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Medical Symphony, Northwestern Indiana Symphony, Osh Kosh Symphony, and more. Berkowitz received his Bachelor of Music degree from Lawrence University, and a Master of Music in voice from the University of Michigan.

  • Symphonia Chorale
    Chorus

    William S. Harrison, director

  • Jonathan Lasch
    Jonathan Lasch
    Baritone

    Critics have described Jonathan Lasch as possessing a voice of “arresting color and heft,” that is “smooth and flexible,” “thrillingly resonant and firm-lined,” a singer able to “balance a big, powerful sound with a light-handed facility with which he makes every note of the fast passage-work perfectly clear,” a performer who is a “master of the stage” and a “tour de force.” This past summer, Dr. Lasch performed and taught in Athens, Greece for the Musical Horizons Conservatory, sang the baritone solo in Carmina Burana for the Green Lake Festival of Music, performed a recital of American music with Caitlin Lynch, soprano and Kathleen Kelly, pianist, featuring the songs of Allen McCullough, which they will record later this year. In July, Jocelyn Hagen’s Amass, with Eugene Rogers conducting and Jonathan Lasch as the baritone soloist, was released by Navona Records. Upcoming performances include a recital at Purdue University, Mozart Requiem with Fort Street Chorale, and recitals and masterclasses in China (Shandong University, Wuhan Conservatory, and Zhejiang Conservatory of Music).

    An accomplished concert artist, Lasch has sung Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, Händel’s Messiah with Houston Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Calvin Orotorio Society, and Fort Street Chorale, the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Chorus America, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Michigan Philharmonic and Adrian Symphony, the premiere of Rene Clausen’s Passion at Minnesota Orchestra Hall, Copland’s Old American Songs with the Dearborn Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem with Christ Church Grosse Pointe and Community Chorus of Detroit, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Adrian Symphony, and Dover Beach with The Emerson String Quartet. Most recent operatic roles performed include; The Vicar in Albert Herring with the Princeton Music Festival, Alcindoro in La Boheme with Detroit Opera, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti with Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and Hannah Before in As One with Aepex Contemporary Performance at Kerrytown Concert Hall. Being a consistent and avid, Jonathan has most recently performed Schubert’s Schwanengesang several times in venues across Michigan.

    Mr. Lasch has studied with some of best training programs in the United States, having participated in the Young Artist Programs at Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Connecticut Opera and the Aspen Opera Center. Dr. Lasch holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Hartt School at University of Hartford, an Artist Diploma in Opera from The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Dr. Lasch has taught voice at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, Adrian College, University of Michigan, and returns to Wayne State University in Detroit as Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Voice. Jonathan enjoys living in Ferndale, Michigan with his wife and three children, and is the Cofounder and Director of ‘Detroit Song Collective’ with his wife, world-renowned soprano, Caitlin Lynch.

  • William S. Harrison Chorale
    Chorus

    William S. Harrison, director

  • Macomb Chamber Choir
    Chorus

    Todd Moses, Conductor

Location

Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
44575 Garfield Rd., Clinton Township, MI 48038-1139
Series

More Info

Purchase Tickets

Date

Apr 14 2024
Expired!

Time

8:00 pm

Cost

$25.00

Orff, Carmina Burana

Join your Macomb Symphony Orchestra and Music Director, Andrew Neer in this epic presentation of Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Featuring Soloists:
Goitsemang Lehobye (soprano)
Jonathan Lasch (Baritone)
Justin Berkowitz (Tenor)

With combined choruses:
Oakland Choral Society
Macomb Chamber Choir
Symphonia Chorale
William S. Harrison Chorale

Tickets are available in late June, online or at the door.

Prelude to Performance

YouTube player

Program Notes

by Eldonna L. May, PhD

Carmina Burana (Cantiones profanae cantoribus et choris comitantibus instrumentis atque imaginibus magicus’) in three scenes (1935-36)

Orchestration: 

Soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists, large mixed chorus, a small mixed chorus, and a children’s chorus. 

3 flutes (2 doubling piccolos), 3 oboes (1 doubling English horn), 3 clarinets (1 doubling E-flat clarinet and 1 doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons and contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 glockenspiels, xylophone, castanets, ratchet, small bells, triangle, antique cymbals, crash cymbals, suspended cymbal, tam‑tam, tubular bells, tambourine, snare drum, bass drum, celesta, 2 pianos, and strings

World Premiere: 

June 8, 1937, Frankfurt Opera. Bertil Wetzelsberger conductor, staging by Otto Wälterlin; sets and costumes by Ludwig Sievert

U.S. Premiere: 

January 10, 1954, War Memorial Opera House—San Francisco. Giovanni Camajani conductor.

Program Notes: 

Principally remembered for his wide-ranging contribution to music education – his Orff-Schulwerk (1930) is still used today – and for his dramatic cantata, Carmina Burana, written in 1936, Orff came from a musical family and had a number of songs and other pieces published while still in his teens. His style at that time could be described as Post-Romantic, influenced by Schoenberg and Richard Strauss. His ground-breaking research into the way in which music and movement are instinctively and inextricably linked in young children resulted in a radical change in how music was taught in schools throughout Europe and beyond. He became fascinated with the power of primitive rhythms and simple melodies, which gradually found expression in his own compositions. With Carmina Burana he finally eschewed chromaticism and complex polyphony for a deliberately simplified style characterized by its rhythmic energy and the repetition of short melodic phrases supported by elemental block harmonies. Not surprisingly, Orff was dismissed by the critics – one called him ‘a rich man’s banjo player’ – but the work immediately appealed to the public and has remained a great favorite ever since.

When Orff discovered a collection of medieval poems and songs in the mid-1930s, it was a treasure trove. Secluded in a Benedictine abbey near Munich, the original manuscript contained hundreds of secular poems and songs written by university students preparing for the priesthood. Despite their holy career aspirations, these students wrote about earthly, ribald themes of wine, women, and song, and dreamed of a pagan goddess called Fortuna, who controlled humans’ fate with the spin of a wheel. Orff, taken with the imagery of the writing, worked with a Latin scholar to choose 24 of the songs and assembled them into his “scenic cantata” Carmina Burana.

In creating Carmina Burana German composer and music educator Carl Orff drew upon ancient Greek tragedy and utilized models of Baroque theatrum emblematicum, featuring 13th-century Latin and German poems by the monks of Benediktbeuern; Frankfurt, Städtische Bühnen establishing a musical theatre of impressive force permeated at times by Bavarian peasant life and Christian mystery. Later the work formed the first part of Orff’s theatrical triptych Trionfi which also includes Catulli carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite. Its simple primitive musical language owes much to Stravinsky and has a freshness of invention that eluded the composer in much of his later work.

Originally conceived for the stage, his best-known composition is most often presented in the concert hall rather than in the opera house. Employing an overall A-B-A structural plan, the work, divided into three main sections that deal with nature, the tavern, and love, and is surrounded by an imposing opening and concluding chorus in praise of Fortuna (“Fortune”), the Empress of the World, the goddess of fate. The text of Carmina Burana derives from a large collection of secular poems of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, preserved in a manuscript at the Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuren. The poems are primarily in Latin, the international language of the time, though some are in old French or Middle High German and come from a wide variety of sources. It is somewhat surprising to learn that, apart from some poems that are of a morally uplifting nature, most are bawdy student songs celebrating such un-monklike activities as drinking, gambling, dancing, and lovemaking.

In the composition’s first section entitled, ‘Im Frühling’ and ‘Uf dem Anger’ the awakening of spring is represented by a simple rising unison melody in the chorus, and the ensuing baritone solo praises the tremendous power of love. A series of dances and short choral movements follows, set in medieval German, evoking a peasant spring feast. In the second section, ‘In taberna’, the theatrical element of the work is established in a series of parodies: A baritone solo of exaggerated pathos in which the drunkard seems oblivious to the precarious condition of his soul; the grotesque falsetto singing of a Swan (counter-tenor) which is being roasted; the inebriated psalmody of the Abbot (baritone) from Fool’s paradise; and an orgiastic hymn to earthly enjoyment sung by the male chorus. The final section, ‘Cour d’Amours’ and ‘Blanziflor et Helena’, provides a studied contrast in praising the pleasures of refined courtly love. Individual numbers include a baritone solo in which the lover seeks to make his courtship more seductive by employing a brilliant coloratura vocal line; a flirtatious song for soprano attempting to kindle a young man’s desire; a courting song for double chorus; and, finally, a chorus of uninhibited intensity in praise of Venus. The final number, Blanziflor and Helena, leads back to the opening hymn (popularized in TV, film, and commercials), not only unifying the whole work, but also serving as a reminder that our lives are ever subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune.