By Randi Bjornstad

It’s titled “Something Old, New & Blue,” but Eugene Vocal Arts’ last concert of the year on April 6 in Beall Hall on the University of Oregon campus is not about weddings.

You could say it’s a musical marriage of sorts, though. The “old” part of the program features the ensemble’s more traditional program of Renaissance madrigals and songs.

It also introduces the concert’s “flight of fancy” sub-theme, with “Le Chant des Oyseaux” by the 14th-century composer Clément Janequin, who employs human voices to mimic the joyous chirping, tweeting, and trilling of birds in spring.

The concept continues after intermission in the “new” part of the concert, in the form of Eric Whitacre’s “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine,” a musical imagining of the Renaissance man as he envisions, builds and sends aloft his idea of mechanical flight, with the singers vocally creating the sound of its triumph.

The “new” theme continues with R. Kelly’s  “I Believe I Can Fly,” followed by a rendition of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird.”

Then comes the “blue” part of the program, beginning with William Averitt’s “The Dream Keeper,” the setting to music of Langston Hughes’ poem, examining the innate sense of possibility of young children of color, tempered as they grow older by the walls of prejudice, and exhorted to seize opportunity in spite of barriers. Pianists for that piece are Camilla Carter and Hung-Yun Chu.

Diane Retallack, artistic director of Eugene Vocal Arts, said the composer “wanted to come here for the performance.”

“He lives in Virginia, but he will be here on April 6, and he will give a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. before the 7:30 p.m. performance,” Retallack said.

The “blue” theme continues with Dwight Bigler’s composition, “I Dream a World,” setting the Hughes poem of that name to music.

Last on the program is Jean Belmont’s light-hearted and energetic “Farewell Overture.”

Retallack said when she put the program together months ago, she didn’t realize that the performance would nearly coincide with the 50th anniversary commemoration of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“It seems so appropriate to be performing these works that include the words of Langston Hughes as well as the lyrics in ‘Blackbird,’ ” Retallack said.

“I think it’s an amazing program. We all look at this concert as our gift to the community.”

Something Old, New & Blue

When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 6; pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. by composer William Averitt

Where: Beall Concert Hall, Frohnmayer Music Building, 961 E. 18th Ave., Eugene, on the University of Oregon campus; pre-concert talk in Room 163

Tickets: $24-28; $15 for college students with valid student ID; available in advance online at or