by Amy Borer
A dream 25 years in the making and nearly a year of hard work and planning becomes a reality tomorrow night as the University of La Verne Department of Music presents Elijah, a dramatic oratorio composed by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.
Originally, Elijah was scheduled to be performed last May, but the production had to be postponed due to the hospitalization of Bruce Hirsch, associate professor of music and director of the production. At the time of the hospitalization, the production staff chose to postpone the show rather than perform without Hirsch.
Elijah, a story from the books 1 Kings and 2 Kings of the Old Testament, is about a group of people who lose their faith and are steered back by God through the prophet Elijah.
According to Hirsch, actual passages from the Bible will be incorporated into the production as dramatic readings in order to make it seem more real to the audience. The majority of the dramatic readings will be performed by Jane Dibbell, associate professor of theatre arts, who plays the parts of the angel and the narrator. Other readings will be given by Al Brightbill, Scott Frick and Marjorie E. Hirsch.
The cast of Elijah consists of a choral ensemble made up of ULV students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University; a professional orchestra and a number of soloists.
“The soloists have a unique interest in the University because we have used them before in other productions,” said Hirsch.
The title role of Elijah is played by Wayne Shepperd, a bass. Shepperd is a young singer, but well known locally.
“He’s developing his talents. He’ll be somebody someday,” said Hirsch. “He already is somebody in my book.”
Other soloists in the production include Brightbill, tenor; Gwendolyn Lylte, lyric soprano; Janet Tate, soprano; and Lilia Lopez, mezzo soprano.
While many University of La Verne students who were planning to be part of the production last year were lost to graduation, a greater number of students will be in the performance this year. The majority of students taking part in the production are included in the choral ensemble.
“The choral ensemble is a unique situation because it gives us the opportunity to become much more of a community function,” said Hirsch.
Although the ensemble is made up of many different people with different interests and varying levels of talent, it is a very professional situation, complete with the time restraints professionals experience.
Due to the large cast, the entire production will meet tonight for their first and only complete rehearsal.
“When we get together finally for one rehearsal together, it’s kind of neat because a lot of people know a lot of people, it’s not just a professional situation,” said Hirsch.
Hirsch encourages ULV students to attend the production for the educational experience it offers.
“I’m so excited for the students who have just shown up to perform,” he said.
Tomorrow night’s production is at the La Verne Church of the Brethren, at the corner of Bonita and “E” Streets, and will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $5 for students and seniors and $10 for general admission, and can be purchased at the door.