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Symphony orchestra and choirs unite on stage

Nearly 250 music students will collaborate for April 27 show at Northwestern led by Donald Schleicher and Andrew Megill
Donald Schleicher and Andrew Megill
In their first collaboration at Northwestern, Donald Schleicher (left), director of orchestras and Andrew Megill, director of choral organizations will lead a performance featuring hundreds of music students on Saturday, April 27.

Nearly 250 students in the Bienen School of Music are merging their musical talents for a concert event unlike any other.  

The performance, Saturday, April 27, features five Bienen ensembles — the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, University Chorale, University Singers and Northwestern Camerata. Numerous student soloists will also perform on the program, which features Ludwig van Beethoven’s Mass in C Major and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Dona nobis pacem” — two monumental works recognized as cornerstones of the orchestral and choral repertoire. 

The joint concert is the first major Northwestern collaboration between the director of orchestras, Donald Schleicher, and the new director of choral organizations, Andrew Megill. 

“Collaboration lies at the heart of music-making, and it's a great joy and privilege to celebrate the excellence of the Bienen School of Music by bringing together so many of our talented students,” Megill said. 

While this is their first time working together on a joint concert at Northwestern, the two directors collaborated on other performances before arriving on the Evanston campus. 

“I have worked with Andrew often and I am thrilled to share the podium with him again,” Schleicher told Northwestern Now during the rehearsal process. Schleicher is a 1977 graduate of Bienen. “It has been exhilarating to lead the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, and I look forward to collaborating with the equally stunning Bienen School of Music choral forces!”  

In recent years, Bienen School's combined choral and orchestral performances have typically involved only one conductor onstage. This performance allows both conductors a chance in the spotlight. Schleicher will conduct Beethoven’s Mass ‘in C Major, and Megill will conduct Vaughan Williams’s “Dona nobis pacem.” 

“Beethoven wrote in the score to his more famous Missa solemnis’ ‘from the heart — may it go to the heart,’ and this is an apt description of the power of massed voices and instruments to bring our community together through the glorious sounds of these two profound works,” said Megill. 

The Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra performance with the Bienen choirs takes place on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at 50 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Tickets are available online, by phone at 847-467-4000 or in-person at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.