41st Annual Cathedral Concert

The Fond du Lac Symphonic Band will present its 41st annual Cathedral Concert at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul on Sunday, Nov. 13. at 3:00 p.m. The event will mark Music Director Ray C. Wifler’s final concert as the Band’s Music Director after a tenure of some 43 years, and there will be appropriate presentations during the concert to recognize his service.

Dr. Ray C. Wifler
Dr. Ray C. Wifler

For this last Cathedral Concert as Music Director, Wifler has chosen a program that features some of his favorite composers and selections from past concerts.

The concert will open with the brilliant Toccata Marziale by British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams. One of the earlier pieces composed for bands, it was written in 1924 for the Commemoration of the British Empire Exhibition, and is considered a gem in the modern concert band repertoire.

Two works each by Bach and Brahms are on the program. From the wealth of music composed by the Baroque master Johann Sebastian Bach, the Band will perform Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring from the cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147” and a chorale prelude for organ on the hymn tune In Dulci Jubilo, in an adaptation by American band composer Alfred Reed. Following a long-standing tradition, the Band will also sing the Christmas hymn In Dulci Jubilo (Good Christian Men, Rejoice) preceding the instrumental version.

Johannes Brahms was among the major composers of the 19th century. From his major work: “A German Requiem,” the Band will play Blessed Are They, based on the passage from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Variations on a Theme by Haydn is among Brahm’s best-known orchestral works. Based on St. Anthony’s Chorale by Haydn, this arrangement for concert band includes three of the eight variations:  Vivace, Grazioso, and Andante (Finale).

Soprano Elise Thelen Winkel will sing Hear Ye, Israel from Mendelssohn’s oratorio “Elijah.” The instrumental transcription was arranged for a small wind ensemble and voice by the band’s assistant conductor Jill Wagner.

Music of the coming Christmas season will be heard in two selections. In the Bleak Midwinter is a carol based on a poem by English poet Christina Rossetti, in a setting by British composer Gustav Holst. The Band’s rendition will be enhanced by portions of the work that are sung rather than played. Patapan is a familiar French carol in an arrangement by Shelley Hanson, in which the carol is alternated and combined with another carol: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

Two works by contemporary American band composers will complete the program. Cause for Celebration by William Himes incorporates the well-known doxology “Old Hundredth” in an energetic, engaging piece that concludes with a chorale setting of the tune.

For forty years Howard Hanson led the Eastman School of Music, dedicating his professional life to the encouragement, creation and preservation of beauty and emotional expressiveness in music. Most appropriately, the concert will close with his first and most-iconic work for concert band: Chorale and Alleluia.

Thirty minutes prior to the concert, Ken Hill will present a prelude on the Cathedral pipe organ. His program will include Purcell’s Trumpet Tune in D and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor.. Hill has served as Minister of Music at Hope Lutheran Church in Fond du Lac for the last 19 years.

There is no admission charge for the concert. A free-will offering will be received.