Bob Jones University will present Jubilate!, the second of four Artist Series events this semester, on March 2 at 8 p.m.
Directed by Dr. Warren Cook, over 250 voices from five campus choirs and two guest choirs will fill the FMA stage along with the BJU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Michael Moore.
In addition to choral works such as Philip Lawson’s “Down to the River to Pray” and John Rutter’s “Amazing Grace,” the concert will feature the music of guest composer Dr. Dan Forrest, a BJU alumnus and former faculty member.
The performance will culminate in Jubilate Deo, Forrest’s new choral work inspired by Psalm 100. The work’s seven movements stem from both classical and world music and contain text in seven languages.
“Dan Forrest has captured the global essence of Psalm 100 in his joyful and expansive Jubilate Deo,” Cook said. “His use of seven languages and traditional instruments from each of the cultures transports the listener from the cultures of the ancient Middle East to Asia, from South Africa with its vocal and drumming traditions to Latin America.”
Forrest said the work’s seven languages illustrate the whole earth resounding in worship, a theme he saw throughout the text of
Although a portion of the work is sung in the traditional Latin, Forrest wanted to portray a sense of all nations and people groups praising the Lord through multiple languages.
“These days we’re so aware of other cultures, and we value their traditions and what they have contributed culturally,” Forrest said. “I didn’t want to be just limited to [Latin] if I was going to say ‘Make a joyful noise, the whole earth.’”
A sophomore member of the Concert Choir, Sara Rivera said Jubilate Deo allowed her not only to worship God but also experience the individual cultures represented in the music.
“All cultures are amazing in their own way and in the eyes of God,” Rivera said. “[The audience] will feel connected to the cultures of the piece. The music really embodies each of the cultures we are singing from.”
Jubilate Deo contains a duet sung in Hebrew and Arabic, a pairing which Forrest said had a dual meaning. Forrest uses the two languages, among the oldest in the world, in addition to traditional Middle Eastern music to represent the worship of God in the past.
But he also said the duet is a political statement about unrest in the Middle East between Israel and the Islamic world. Forrest expressed that harmonies between the two languages represent the present yearning for peace but also foreshadow the ultimate establishment of peace.
“In terms of these two languages coming together, there is a desire for peace here,” Forrest said. “We long for that strife to end and for there to be peace in that area. So I intentionally wrote two vocalists who sing a duet, and their vocal lines wind around each other and intertwine and work together in perfect harmony even though the two languages are different.”
Both Forrest and Elisa Chodan, the GA who sings the Hebrew portion of the duet, said that the Arabic-Hebrew duet shows the beauty and value of the Arabic language, which is often overlooked.
Chodan said she believes the piece speaks to the universality of the human race and emphasizes its similarities, not its differences.
In addition to the seven languages, the work also contains an instrumental section titled “The Song of the Earth,” showing that even the earth itself will praise the Lord.
Forrest originally composed Jubilate Deo as a commission from Indianapolis Children’s Choir.
The work is Forrest’s second major work and was premiered last April.
Cook’s community choir Rivertree Singers performed the second-ever presentation of Jubilate Deo last summer in Rodeheaver Auditorium.
Forrest expressed his personal feelings about coming back to his alma mater to hear his music performed.
“There is a really neat sense of coming home and getting back to where I used to be,” Forrest said. “The music making at Bob Jones is so fantastic that it’s always good to collaborate.”
Jubilate! can also be enjoyed March 11 at Greenville’s Peace Center and on April 3 at Orchestra Hall, home of the Chicago Symphony, in downtown Chicago.
These performances will differ from the campus performance, as they will also feature instrumental works performed by the BJU Symphony Orchestra and Peabody Conservatory DMA candidate Isaac Greene, who is a BJU alumnus.
Featured works will include Bernstein’s Concert for Guitar and Orchestra and excerpts from Stravinksy’s Firebird Suite. All three performances will end with Jubilate Deo.
“The satisfying and celebratory seventh movement unites all the earth, singing as one, omnis terra, jubilate!” Cook said.