An evening of J.S. Bach’s exquisite choral music will be presented on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m., to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Gerald Gray of the State University of New York at Fredonia School of Music at Trinity Episcopal Church, 11 Day St., Fredonia.
Fredonia music faculty, alumni, current students and visiting Baroque specialists will join together to honor the memory of Dr. Gray, who passed away on Oct. 15, and his outstanding accomplishments and contributions with performances of some of his most beloved choral works, including: J.S. Bach’s BWV 106: “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit” and BWV 227: “Jesu meine Freude.” Seating at the church is extremely limited and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Fredonia music alumni who worked with Gray are invited to perform in the final piece of the evening, Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia.” For more information, contact Eric Perry via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A highly accomplished singer and conductor, Gray joined the Fredonia music faculty in 2002. Known for his precise musicianship and grand musical collaborations and productions, he organized some of the most memorable School of Music productions of the past 15 years, including the annual Madrigal Feaste, performances of J.S. Bach’s “Messiah,” the Christmas Cantatas and Christmas Oratorio, and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, to name a few.
As head of the Choral Area, Gray established the Fredonia Chamber Choir, a highly select 24-voice ensemble comprised of the top singers from Fredonia’s large undergraduate and graduate vocal programs. He taught and supervised graduate students in choral conducting and literature, and prepared choruses for numerous major works during his tenure.
Gray’s formative years were spent under the tutelage of the great choral conductors of this era at Austin Peay State University, Eastman School of Music and the University of Iowa, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting. He was greatly influenced by the dean of American choral conductors, Robert Shaw, under whose baton Gray sang, recorded and toured as a principal member of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers.
Gray excelled as a professional singer, and was a frequent guest soloist with premier orchestras throughout the United States and Europe. His music making afforded him a particular fluency in the musical language of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was the music of Johann Sebastian Bach which guided him more than any other.
The celebration concert on Nov. 26 was planned according to Gray’s vision and wishes, including cherished repertoire to be performed by colleagues, friends, and students in the beautiful and sacred space of Trinity Episcopal Church.
In addition to music faculty, students and alumni, the concert will feature some of today’s most highly respected Baroque specialists, who were close colleagues and friends of Gray. They include Boston-based conductor Michael Beattie, Roy Sansom and Emily O’Brien (recorder), Fr. Sean Duggan (continuo), and Patricia Halverson and Aimée Beggs (gamba). Soloists include soprano Margaret Johnson, alto Zachary Delcamp, tenor Eric Christopher Perry and bass Will Prapestis.
Also featured will be members of Fredonia College Choir, one of the student ensembles conducted by Gray as recently as last month. The evening will be interspersed with short tributes to Gray performed by Fredonia music faculty.
Family, friends and colleagues have also established a scholarship in Gray’s memory. In lieu of a ticket price for this concert, donations will be accepted at the door for the Dr. Gerald Gray Choral Scholarship established through the Fredonia College Foundation. Contributions may also be made online at fredonia.edu/give. For more information about this event or the scholarship fund, please contact the Fredonia School of Music, 673-3151, or the Fredonia College Foundation at 673-3321.