The Rolla Choral Arts Society (RCAS) on Sunday will present a fall concert “Frostiana.”

“Frostiana” will feature each of the RCAS’ ensembles. The RCAS Jazz Choirs directed by Kathy Mazzeo will open the concert, followed by the RCCC Una Voce (one voice) and Cantiamo (we sing) directed by Jeff Sandquist, and accompanied by Joan Murray. 

The Rolla Men of Song and Rolla Community Choir will join forces to present Randall Thompson’s “Frostiana” a set of seven country songs using the poetry of Robert Frost at 3 p.m. on Sunday at First Presbyterian Church of Rolla.  Tickets for performance are available online at www.rollachoirs.org and can be purchased at the door 30 minutes before the start of the concert. Babysitting is provided in the church nursery.  

“Frostiana” was commissioned by the village of Amherst to celebrate their Bicentennial in 1959.  Thompson was asked by the Bicentennial committee to provide a musical setting of Robert Frost’s poem “The Gift Outright” — a patriotic poem that was later recited by Frost at John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration. Thompson rejected the committee’s suggestion and asked if he could be allowed to select the poetry. 

The committee agreed, and Thompson selected six poems from Frost’s collection You Come Too – 1916: “The Road Not Taken,” “The Pasture,” “Come In,” “The Telephone,” “A Girl’s Garden” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” These six poems were written by Frost during a time in his life when he was living on a small farm in New Hampshire. 

 

It was a productive time for Frost’s writing, but a difficult and tragic time as well, marked by the financial failure of the farm, and the death of two of his children. Frost had to sell the farm and moved to London, in order to find a publisher for his work, which in turn sparked his popularity as a poet in America. The seventh poem in the set “Choose Something Like a Star” from the collection Steeple Bush – 1947. All seven poems are unified by the theme of nature. Three of them have become very well-known examples of Frost’s work.  

Randall Thompson and Robert Frost knew each other very well. The composer attended the premier at the Bicentennial celebration in Amherst, which was directed by the composer. Following the performance Frost was so pleased with Thompson’s music that he stated that no other composer would be allowed to set his poetry. His estate followed his wish, and vigorously guarded his poetry until it became public domain.

Thompson’s musical settings include combined SATB numbers “The Road Not Taken,” and “Choose Something Like a Star,” settings for male choir “The Pasture” and “Stopping by the Woods,” settings for female voices “Come In” “A Girl’s Garden” and “The Telephone” which is a dialogue between the male and female choirs. The original piano accompaniment will be used for our performance.  

Rolla Choral Arts Society’s performance of “Frostiana” celebrates the 60th anniversary of the premier of this work.  

Singers from the greater Rolla area are also invited to join the Rolla Community Choir for a performance of the Christmas portion of G.F. Handel’s  “The Messiah” on Dec. 15. Rehearsals for “The Messiah” will begin 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18 at First Presbyterian Church. The performance on Dec. 15 will feature four soloists from the School of Music at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and the Chamber Orchestra from Missouri University of Science and Technology.    

The Rolla Choral Arts Society receives funding through a grant from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.