October 18, 2000

Continental Harmony to Mark the Millennium, Middlebury College's Bicentennial with a Choral Extravaganza and World Premiere Musical Work Nov. 3

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College will cap off its Bicentennial celebration Friday, Nov. 3 with an unprecedented choral performance featuring a world premiere of music created by alumnus Peter Hamlin. The free concert will take place at 8 p.m. in Mead Chapel on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125), and is one of dozens of performances this year organized through Continental Harmony, a nationwide celebration of the millenium using original works of music.

Organizers of Continental Harmony have arranged for the commission of 58 new compositions―each of which will premiere in one of the 50 states with some states hosting the premiere of several works. The group selected Middlebury College as the site for the Vermont performance.

A 1973 Middlebury graduate, Hamlin is a professor of music at St. Olaf College in

Northfield, Minn. He wrote his new work, "Reflections of the Sky," especially for this event. Four poems serve as the text for the four movements of Hamlin's piece. Three of the poems are by current and former Middlebury College faculty, including Julia Alvarez and Jay Parini.

The piece's debut will feature the collaboration of the Middlebury College Choir, the Middlebury College Chamber Singers, the Middlebury Community Chorus, the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble, organist Emory Fanning, and conductors François Clemmons and Jeffrey Rehbach. Choral selections leading up to Hamlin's featured work will include pieces by Handel and Copland.

Organized by the non-profit American Composers Forum and funded primarily by the National Endowment for the Arts, Continental Harmony gathers artists from urban and rural settings with performances that include jazz, choral, musical theatre, and orchestral events.

Based in St. Paul, Minn., the American Composers Forum initiates projects that aim to

strengthen relationships between artists and their communities, creating residencies and new musical works. The forum's Continental Harmony endeavor strives to accomplish these goals on a national scale.

The project is an official White House Millennium Council associate partner and will be

documented by the Library of Congress. Additional support for Continental Harmony comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Land O'Lakes

Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the

Ohio Arts Council. The Middlebury College Bicentennial committee is providing local support.

During a break in the concert, performers and concertgoers will pause while 10 local residents receive Middlebury College Bicentennial Medals. The College is presenting these medals in recognition of the significant contributions these individuals have made to the community.

No tickets or reservations are necessary for this free performance. For more information,

contact the College box office at 802-443-6433. Visit Continental Harmony's website,, for more information about the project across the country, including lists of participating communities and composers.

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