American Festival Chorus Celebrates 10th Anniversary With World War I Commemoration

Apr 7, 2018

The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra Conducted By Craig Jessop
Credit Weston Lee Allen


"2018 will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Supposedly, the war to end all wars. But we know, the story did not work that way," said Dr. Craig Jessop, dean of the Caine College of the Arts and music director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra.


During this weekend’s performance, the group will perform two of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ oratorios with Jessop conducting.


"Ralph Vaughan Williams, the great English composer, was a medic in World War I. He volunteered at age 46 to go over, and saw the very worst part of the war," Jessop said. "When he returned, he wrote a composition called Sancta Civitas, or The Holy City, because it was his aspiration that it would be a new age of peace.


"About twenty years later, after it premiered, Vaughan Williams saw in Europe the rise of Adolf Hitler and the annexation of Austria, of Poland, of Belgium, of France, and he said it’s coming again, it is coming again, and he composed Dona Nobis Pacem, saying, 'It’s here, watch, be vigilant. Grant us peace, oh God,'" Jessop said.


The American Festival Chorus’ concerts this year are celebrating the commemorative events of World War I, and the great work of Ralph Vaughan Williams.


"It requires three choirs," Jessop said. "In addition to the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra, we’ll have the Lukes Chamber Choir from Utah County, and the Cache Children’s Choir, and the Box Elder High School Girls Chorus. It's a surroud-sound experience. Ralph Vaughan Williams invented surround sound before it was ever known."


The concert will be performed on Saturday April 7th, in Daines Concert Hall at USU at 7:30 pm. The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra will take the same concert to England, to perform at various locations, including in the Ely Cathedral on the fourth of July.