On April 16, Cumberland Oratorio Singers, in collaboration with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, presents Carmina Burana at Fayetteville State University’s Seabrook Auditorium. It’s the third of four concerts for the Cumberland Oratorio Singers this year. 

Collaborating is nothing new for the oratorio or for the symphony, in fact, concerts like this are a long-time goal for both organizations. 

“It was an agreed goal of Dr. Fakhouri and I that we would one day have our respectful community organizations provide concert experiences at this level,” said COS Artistic Director Dr. Michael Martin. “In 2008, we set out on building both of our organizations so that these partnerships would be possible. Our first collaboration was Vaughn Williams Serenade to Music. This was followed by Beethoven’s Symphony #9 with a collaboration including area colleges and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers, and it has grown since then.” 

While events like this bring an added dimension to Fayetteville’s music scene, there are some challenges. One of them is a lot of people on the stage. Martin noted that it is unique to much larger metropolitan areas to have such concert experiences available. 

“It says a lot about the dedication and commitment of artists, musicians and the philanthropy of area Fayetteville foundations to sponsor such strong musical organizations to perform these large works,” said Martin. 

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is a setting of 24 songs from a much larger collection of texts dating mostly from the 11th or 12th century, including some from the 13th century. In 1934, Orff encountered the 1847 edition of the Carmina Burana, compiled by Johann Andreas Schmeller.The songs in this work were selected from that edition. 

“The songs cover a wide range of topics, as familiar in the 13th century as they are in the 21st century: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the nature of life, the joy of the return of spring and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and love,” said Martin. “They are also mixture of languages from Medieval Latin, to German and French, making the performance of the texts pretty tricky! Interestingly, this is a work known by most people, even though it is not always heard in its entirety. The first movement, “O Fortuna,” has appeared in many media over the years from sporting events to beer commercials, as well as been the focus of many parodies.”

People who regularly attend COS performances will notice a few differences from previous performances. The concert features COS and Methodist University Chorale appearing with the FSO in this final concert. 

“So, this is not a typical concert of ours which would feature only choral music. However, the COS does bring regular choral/orchestral works to their seasons,” said Martin. 

He added that the newly formed youth chorus will join the event as well. 

The final Cumberland Oratorio Singers concert of the season is on May 13 at St. Ann Catholic Church. It will be a performance of new work by Ola Gjeillo. After that, the choral group is set to prepare for next season. Planning is already underway because next year is the 25th season for the Cumberland Oratorio Singers. Martin invites anyone who is interested to contact COS at www.singwithcos.org. 

“I always want to reach out to Fayetteville to have people who like to sing come sing with us! I know we do not have the only 75 people that sing in Fayetteville! Come join us! We are your community choir,” he said.

Carmina Burana starts at 7:30 p.m. and takes place at Fayetteville State University’s Seabrook Auditorium. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.singwithcos.org.  

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