Bemidji Chorale to perform Mother's Day concert under new leader
The Bemidji Chorale's Mother's Day concert is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 14, in BSU's Thompson Recital Hall. It is free and open to the public with a reception to follow.
BEMIDJI — The baton has been passed, but the tradition of a Bemidji Chorale Mother’s Day Concert will continue when James Bowyer leads the group in a 3 p.m. concert on Sunday, May 14.
Bowyer, in his second year as associate professor of music and director of music education at Bemidji State University, has taken over as Bemidji Chorale director from Pat Mason, who retired in December after 45 years with the community choir.
“It’s been a very welcoming community of singers,” Bowyer said. “They have really embraced me with open arms. People in the choir have really shown that they respect me as a musician and as a choral artist. They’ve been very willing to follow a new vision of the choir.”
The Mother’s Day concert is free and open to the public. It will be performed in the Thompson Recital Hall at BSU. Free-will donations will be accepted, and a reception will follow in the lobby outside the recital hall. Longtime Chorale pianist Wayne Hoff will accompany.
The concert is entitled “American Journey: Choral Music of America” and will feature arrangements of folk songs in a variety of styles. Songs like “Home on the Range,” “Buffalo Gals” and “Sourwood Mountain” will be among the offerings.
“I wanted to have our first concert include music that the choir would really love to sing and that would be very accessible to the audience,” Bowyer said. “I thought it would be a particularly good repertoire as there is an inevitable change when you get a new director. The sound of the choir changes a little bit, and I’m building on a long choral tradition that goes back to the late 1970s. I just thought this music would be a good segue into a new chapter of the choir’s history.”
Bowyer, 53, grew up in Indiana and has been teaching music as a profession for nearly 30 years. Before moving to Bemidji, he taught on the faculties of McPherson College, Loyola University Maryland, Indiana University South Bend, Brooklyn College, the University of Wyoming, the University of Puget Sound and Gonzaga University. He also has conducted several community and church choirs along the way.
He recently composed a piece called “The Frozen Man” specifically for BSU Sings! Day in March, with students premiering the piece at the concert’s end.
Bowyer has also written a textbook, “Creative Sight-singing,” which has been adopted by high schools and colleges across the United States and Canada.
As a lyric tenor, Bowyer has presented numerous recitals and has appeared as a soloist with a range of orchestras, most recently Bach’s B Minor Mass, Mozart’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
Bowyer teaches courses in music education, choral studies and ear training at BSU, and also directs the Bell Canto women’s choir and the Musikanten men’s group. He says he was attracted to the school because of the opportunity to create a master of music education program. That task has been completed, and the program will begin this summer.
“That sounded like the chance of a lifetime,” he said.