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posted: 4/20/2018 1:45 PM

Festival Chorus spring concert celebrates former conductor

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  • Edwin Kemp, conductor of the Festival Chorus from 1997 to 2010, takes a bow at its 2008 Christmas concert. The chorus will dedicate its upcoming spring concert to Kemp, who recently passed away.

    Edwin Kemp, conductor of the Festival Chorus from 1997 to 2010, takes a bow at its 2008 Christmas concert. The chorus will dedicate its upcoming spring concert to Kemp, who recently passed away.
    Courtesy of Larry Zabinski

 
Submitted by the Festival Chorus

The 2018 spring concert of the Festival Chorus will be dedicated to Edwin L. Kemp III, the second of four conductors the chorus has had in its 53-year history. Born Jan. 23, 1944, Kemp passed away on Jan. 27 following an extended convalescence from serious injuries.

The concert will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6, at the Harper College Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Building R, Palatine. Tickets are $12-18. The program features a work that Kemp conducted at his first spring concert, Gabriel Faure's "Requiem," as well as a collection of shorter works selected by current conductor Greg Tipps.

The chorus will be accompanied by a professional orchestra. Selections include Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," Dan Forrest's "Lord of the Small," Craig Courtney's "Idyll of Praise," John David's "You Are the New Day," Scottish folk song "Over the Sea to Skye," Mark Hayes's arrangement of "Grace" and Greg Gilpin's "Why We Sing." It is this final song that probably best represents Kemp's legacy.

Ed Kemp received his basic musical training at Northwestern School of Music, earning a bachelor of arts in music in 1966 and a master of arts in music the following year. He studied voice with Hermanus Beer and conducting with John Paynter. For three years, starting in 1973, he studied in Germany with Helmut Kretschmar at the Muskakademie in Detmold.

Over the years he sang in many concerts, oratorios and operas, both locally and abroad.

The Festival Chorus was founded in 1965, starting first as a combined church choir that performed at an ecumenical service. It then became the Elk Grove Festival Chorus. In 1968, the Harper College Music Department head invited the chorus to affiliate with the school. The chorus's first conductor was its founder, Anthony Mostardo. He remained in that position for 32 years.

In December 1997, Kemp became the second conductor. He had already served for many years as assistant conductor. He stepped down from his work with the chorus in 2010. Ann Espel succeeded him.

During the time Kemp conducted, he brought much to the group, including sensitivity, expertise, sense of humor, a storytelling ability and team spirit. It was obvious at his celebration of life service Feb. 17 that many people appreciated and respected Kemp, including the members of the chorus who sang that day.

Tipps is the fourth conductor of the Festival Chorus. Under his guidance the chorus continues to flourish, reaching back to the group's earlier days and leaders for inspiration.

For tickets, visit harpercollege.edu/boxoffice or call (847) 925-6100.

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