Carmina Burana at SPC

March 20, 2019

Public Information Officer


Details shared in advance to optimize eventgoer destination experiences with the most famous choral work of the 20th century on April 11 and April 13 include a soloist from South Africa, five percussionists, two pianists, six ballet dancers and almost 20 students from the college's Fine Arts Institute in a 60-member choir

On the heels of an-institutional best award-winning 2017-2018 season, the music and theater programs of St. Philip’s College co-announced details this week on the college's first-ever production of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, and it's an example of the global-thinking and cooperation required to source the best talent---including almost 20 students from the college's Fine Arts Institute---for one of the best pieces of performance art in the world.

With a narrative conceived by Vincent Hardy and choreography by Leonard Lopez, Carmina Burana is presented just twice---April 11 and April 13 at 8 p.m. at the college's 600-seat Watson Fine Arts Center located at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. Ticket sales for Carmina Burana are underway in Room 207 of the Watson Fine Arts Center during business hours. For sales information email or voicemail (210) 486-2205. For production details, email or voicemail 210-486-2838.

While Carl Orff’s masterpiece has been performed many times by many arts organizations in San Antonio, the 2019 production marks the work's debut at 121-year-old St. Philip's College and is based upon writings drawn from a 13th century manuscript penned in Latin by a team of monks. The SPC team has re-imagined those ancient stories---evergreen-popular examinations of corporate church hierarchies, nature, love, life, partying and celebration---to ensure Burana is relevant with audiences on April 11 and 13. There is no such thing as a “small Burana” and some people know the music from commercials, films or through The X Factor reality show---even the poster for the project at SPC is a stylized mix of red, white and blue imagery featuring a large Statue of Liberty atop one of the world's great pyramids.

The preparations for this Carmina Burana involve processes spread over several locations in the nation's seventh-largest city, with separate rehearsals designated for the respective choral, musical, technical and dance elements. Costumes are designed by Susan Hamilton, lighting is designed by Melissa Ann Gaspar, and stage management for the Burana-at-SPC project is led by Angelica Hernandez.

While Burana conductor Eric Schmidt directs the college's music program and Fine Arts department chair Vincent Hardy conceived the narrative for the debut of Burana at SPC, college Fine Arts Academy student musician Christian Cortez has joined the team as a percussionist and SPC-UTSA alumnus Andrew de Voogd Tucker returns to the campus as the tenor soloist for the iconic musical theater event. Seven principal dancers from the San Antonio area ballet scene enhance the production in their own Carmina Burana debuts, and the college team will share the names of the dance artists in coming days.

"In this version, the 60-member choir consists of singers---from SPC music students, faculty and staff as well as singers from area high schools and others from all over the city of San Antonio," said Schmidt. "There are five percussionists led by Julliard alumnus John Godoy in his St. Philip's College debut. There are also two pianists in this version, guest artists Joshua Frilling and Kristen Gaus each playing a grand piano in their St. Philip's College debuts, and we welcome them to this project," Schmidt said.

Browen Forbay, a native of South Africa who has previously performed Carmina Burana, also makes her SPC debut with Burana this April.

"Our soprano soloist Browen Forbay, a native of South Africa who has performed there as well as extensively in the United States---Wolf Trap OperaSanta Fe OperaTulsa Opera and other companies in a variety of popular roles from the repertoire. She has performed Orff’s Carmina Burana in College Station, Texas," said Schmidt. "The baritone is Vincent Contrell who has performed in a number of musical theater roles nationally and locally. He played Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Giancarlo Menotti's 20th century classic. We are excited to welcome Andrew de Voogd Tucker as our tenor soloist as well," Schmidt said.

The narrative follows the original text and its exploration of the capriciousness of the dominating female character Fortune who seems to elevate some folks at the expense of others, according to her whim. 

"In this version, we explore our country’s current treatment of immigrants, allegorically using imagery very familiar to us in both the global news and social media," said Hardy. 

The college’s 2017-2018 season of the play All My Sons and the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar earned multiple Alamo Theatre Arts Council’s Globe Awards for Areli Noriega (Supporting actress: All My Sons), Azarely Velasquez (Supporting actress: All My Sons) and Leonard Lopez (Choreography of a musical: Bubbling Brown Sugar). The 2018-2019 season included two debut productions as the theater company staged the heavy existential 1944 classic that is Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, and completes the season by reimagining the most famous choral work of the 20th century that is Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (1895-1982). Both are unsubtle---one composer's iconic cantata about relationships, excess and the fickle nature of fate and one playwright's reaction to relationships during the cruelty and mass destruction of war---and each a classic. No Exit ran in November with Andrew J. Heinrich directing and Carmina Burana runs in April.

CAPTION: An image of the poster that accompanies St. Philip’s College’s reimagining of the most famous choral work of the 20th century that is Carmina Burana by Carl Orff is a reminder that ticket sales are underway now for the performances on April 11 and April 13 at 8 p.m. in the college's 600-seat Watson Fine Arts Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. (Image courtesy SPC)