Oklahoma Baptist University

Bisonettes Present ‘Music of Poetry’ Spring Concert April 26

Inspired by ancient texts, historical writers and contemporary selections, the Bisonettes, OBU’s Women’s Glee Club, will present their Spring Concert titled “The Music of Poetry” on Tuesday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Yarborough Auditorium. The community is invited to attend the free performance.

“While developing this program, it became evident to us that the poetry of the music we will sing was the vehicle for our presentation -– that the poets and the poetry had something to say to us –- and, hopefully, to you –- and the composers assist us in understanding what is intended,” said Dr. James Vernon, professor of music and conductor of the group.

The program will begin with a South African praise song and a 10th-century Plainchant melody, followed by an original piece by former OBU faculty member Dr. Darla Eshelman. Among other works is a selection reflecting the biblical poetry of King Solomon.

The second section of the program focuses on three historical poets and writers: James Joyce, Lewis Carroll and Christina Rossetti. The music styles range from plaintive and haunting to fanciful and romantic.

The third portion of the program features “South Dakota Shadows Suite,” commissioned as part of the 1989 centennial celebration of the State of South Dakota. The performance replaces the original narrative poetry in the third movement with the original poetry of Dr. Ben Myers, OBU associate professor of English.

The concert will conclude with two popular songs, the first featuring the poetry of the singer/songwriter Ben Folds, and the second made popular by Louis Armstrong.

“While the beauty of the choral sound, and especially women’s voices, can stand alone as musical genius, it is the words we sing which give these works true meaning,” Vernon said. “The Music of Poetry is our attempt to bring those two things together to you.”

The Bisonettes include some of the finest vocal musicians on the OBU campus. The group was organized in 1954 by Warren M. Angell, then dean of the College of Fine Arts. Members are selected by audition and represent a number of academic areas of the University. Membership also reflects a diversity of geography, including members from Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. The group performs at many churches, schools, and campus events, as well as staging tours throughout the country.

Vernon has served OBU since 1990 as an instructor in choral music, music theory and music composition. He earned degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and he has done additional study at the University of North Texas. Twice honored by the University with the Distinguished Service Award, Vernon has been the recipient of the Promising Teaching Award (1994), the Distinguished Teaching Award (2003) and the Meritorious Service Award (2009). He has served churches in Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma as music director. Vernon also served the OBU Division of Music as Chairman from 2000-09.

For more information about the recital or the Bisonettes, contact the OBU Division of Music at (405) 878-2305.

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