John McLaughlin Williams conducts the Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra at Royal Oak Middle School March 9, 2018. The symphony orchestra will join the Metropolitan Detroit Chorale for a joint concert at Seaholm High School March 15.

John McLaughlin Williams conducts the Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra at Royal Oak Middle School March 9, 2018. The symphony orchestra will join the Metropolitan Detroit Chorale for a joint concert at Seaholm High School March 15.

File photo by Erin Sanchez


Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra and Metropolitan Detroit Chorale team up for concert

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published March 4, 2019

 The Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra, led by Williams, performs a concert titled “America!” last year.

The Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra, led by Williams, performs a concert titled “America!” last year.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

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ROYAL OAK — At 8 p.m. March 15, the Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Detroit Chorale will come together for a joint performance at the recently remodeled Wagner Auditorium at Seaholm High School.

The evening of music will commence with the “The Consecration of the House,” by Ludwig van Beethoven, followed by the main event — a 45-minute performance of “Jubilate Deo,” by Dan Forrest.

“This is the first outside symphonic production at the newly renovated auditorium,” said Michele Prud’homme, president and percussionist with the Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra. “It is state-of-the-art. My jaw dropped to the ground when I was there.”

Prud’homme said the spacious new venue includes approximately 900 seats and cutting-edge technology for a maximum visual and auditory experience.

She said John McLaughlin Williams, director of the 65-member symphony orchestra, chose to perform “Jubilate Deo” because Forrest is a young and contemporary composer, and the piece incorporates a plethora of unique and ethnic-inspired movements.

Released in 2016, it brings to life the global aspect of the traditional Psalm 100 text, “O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands,” according to www.danforrest.com. The piece features seven movements and eight languages, with cultural musical accompaniments.

Languages include liturgical Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Zulu, Spanish and English.

“We wanted to do something more spectacular,” Prud’homme said. “I’m excited because it features percussion. Very seldom do instrumental works feature percussion, and we are definitely featured.”

The piece brings together myriad types of percussion — including timpani, bongos, cymbals, marimba, chimes, glockenspiel, triangle, tambourine and more — that will circle the back of the stage. Prud’homme said the orchestra also hired a local musician to play a special solo on a two-stringed Chinese instrument called an erhu.

“The singing is beautiful. The use of the different languages is beautiful. It really is a work of peace that brings cultures from all over the world together through music, which is a universal language,” she said.

Pasquale Pascaretti, director of the 80-member chorale, said the collaboration is an effort to reach out across communities to the widest possible audience. He said the Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra draws from an Oakland County base, and the Metropolitan Detroit Chorale draws from a Macomb County following.

The biggest challenge for the choir, he said, was learning the foreign languages.

“We had never sung in Chinese before, so that was a real challenge,” he said. “There’s a movement in Arabic and Hebrew and a movement in Spanish — that wasn’t bad, because it is a Latin-based language.”

He said the choir has been practicing for the concert since September.

“We can’t wait to perform this,” Pascaretti said. “We think the audience will kind of have their eyes opened about some of these movements, because they are so unique.”

Tickets cost $15 for adults or $12 for students and seniors ages 60 and older, and admission is free for those ages 18 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the high school, online or by phone.

Seaholm High School is located at 2436 West Lincoln Road, east of South Cranbrook Road, in Birmingham.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.royaloakorchestra.org or call the Metropolitan Detroit Chorale at (586) 792-7464, ext. 505.

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