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St. Catherine Choral Society premieres Tribute on May 5

The work and contributions of the late Professors Al Biales (left) and Russell Connors (right) will be honored in a concert May 5.
The work and contributions of the late Professors Al Biales (left) and Russell Connors (right) will be honored in a concert May 5.
Photos by Rebecca Zenefski '10.

The St. Catherine Choral Society will present the premiere performance of the late St. Catherine University Professor Emeritus Albert Biales’s Tribute, 3 p.m., Sunday, May 5, at The O’Shaughnessy on the campus of St. Catherine University.

A Cantata Honoring the Life of Russell B. Connors, 1948-2011 was composed for baritone and soprano soloists, chorus and orchestra and was commissioned by members of the Choral Society in honor of Russell Connors, a beloved Professor of Theology at St. Catherine and a Choral Society charter member. 

Through writings and talks presented during his “pilgrimage with cancer,” that began in 2010 and ended in July 2011, he inspired many.  The cantata alternates biblical and poetic texts with Dr. Connors’s own words.  The first four movements illumine the themes of hope, gratitude, carpe diem and beauty.  The epilogue is a simple choral declaration of the importance of hugs, tears, gratitude, laughter and love in the midst of time’s movement.

Albert Biales was a Highland Park resident and a well-known performer (trumpet), composer, and music educator, who taught at St Catherine’s for 35 years.  He was chosen as the composer for the commission because of his experience writing for chorus and orchestra and because he was a close friend of Connors and his wife, Patty, who is the conductor of the Choral Society.  Working on the piece with gusto, even as his own health declined, Biales put the finishing touches on Tribute just before entering the hospital.  He passed away on Dec. 6, 2012.

The May concert will honor both men.  The Choral Society will also perform sections of Handel’s Messiah dealing with Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.

In addition to the mixed-voice, 80-member Choral Society, the performance of Tribute will feature two soloists, St. Catherine University Assistant Professor of Music Kristie Tigges (soprano), and frequent Choral Society soloist, Michael P. Schmidt (baritone), accompanied by an orchestra of professional musicians. 

Tickets available in advance or at the door

Tickets for the St. Catherine Choral Society concert are $10 for adults and $5 for students with an ID.  They may be purchased at the door or at The O’Shaughnessy Box Office at 651-690-6700.

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Nov. 30, 1999 by Julie Michener

See also: Arts, Faculty