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Student vocal ensemble, NOTUS, to perform ‘Mass for the Endangered’ Feb. 7

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IU’s contemporary vocal ensemble, NOTUS, will have their first concert of the semester at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in Auer Hall. The performance will also be available through IUMusicLive! 

NOTUS will be performing Sarah Kirkland Snider’s composition entitled “Mass for the Endangered,” a work centered around wildlife and animals at the brink of extinction. Differing from other NOTUS concerts, the composition will be the sole performance, a decision made by Dominick DiOrio, a professor of music at the Jacobs School of Music and conductor of NOTUS. 

“This work is the only work on the concert,” DiOrio said. “A 45-minute piece in six movements, and we wanted to give the stage fully to Sarah (Kirkland Snider) and the message of her work.” 

The message of Snider’s composition is that actions can impact the environment and the world, but it is not too late to be more aware and active in any effort to make a change. This is a message not commonly seen in “traditional” compositions, but contemporary works like these are how classical music stays relevant even today. 

Related: [Venue Gallery, among many local galleries, hosts Bloomington’s February Gallery Walk]

“We can make sure folks understand that ‘classical music’ isn’t just an old, dead artform,” DiOrio said. “It lives and it breathes with the issues of today.” 

The issues of environmentalism surrounding “Mass for the Endangered” will always be important to DiOrio, he said, and aside from moving the listener with its beautiful sound, he also saw the possibility for it to move someone to make a change. 

“You can take what you learn in the concert, the inspiration in the melodies, the aching longing in the phrases,” DiOrio said. “Allow that curiosity to grow into awareness and then into action.” 

Kian Ravaei, a first-year master's student at IU, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to perform Snider’s original composition, saying that it is important to display contemporary music due to its relevance and impact. 

Related: [Indiana University’s Lilly Library is to present Flora + Fauna exhibition]

“It reflects the time that we live in, and for that reason it may resonate with us more deeply than music of the past,” Ravaei said. “It’s great to give voice to composers who wouldn’t have had a chance to have a voice when they were systemically excluded from music.” 

Almost four weeks in rehearsal, Ravaei found himself more than ready to perform the piece, finding beauty in the various emotions he felt were contained within the folds of the sheet music. 

“There’s angst, there’s anger, there’s fear, there’s sadness and there’s sometimes hope,” Ravaei said. “I think this piece captures the stages of reconciling with ecological disasters emotionally.” 

NOTUS’ next concert will be held at 8 p.m. March 31 in Auer Hall, featuring a range of new compositions by faculty composer Chi Wang and three IU students. 

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