SUU music department premieres ‘Worlds to Come’

Southern Utah University’s Symphony Orchestra and choirs gave a combined concert on Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Heritage Center. Each of the university’s three choirs sang a piece before the orchestra and combined choirs took the stage to perform Roy Rummler’s “Worlds to Come.”

The Concert Choir began the concert with “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” originally composed by William Steffe, with the arrangement by Peter Wilhousky. The popular hymn was followed by “Maggie and Millie and Molly and Mae” by Joan Syzmko, which was sung by Luminosa, the women’s choir. 

OPUS then took the stage to perform three works, beginning with “Haec Dies” by William Byrd, an English composer considered to be one of the most influential of the Renaissance period. Following Byrd’s composition, they performed “El Hambo” by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi. The piece is based off of the hambo, a Swedish folk dance in 3/4 time. “El Hambo” augments this time signature, instead being written in 5/4 time. The lyrics are nonsense words, and the melodic structure is inspired by Norwegian folk music. 

OPUS closed their section of the concert with “Morning Song” by Clark Lawlor with text by Sarah Teasdale. “Morning Song” was the winner of the American Choral Directors Association 2023 Composition Competition. 

After a brief transition, the combined choirs and the Symphony Orchestra joined one another onstage to perform the world premiere of “Worlds to Come.” A five-movement work, the piece is inspired by the belief in an afterlife. 

“The Beginning at the End,” the first movement, depicts death as a transitional experience rather than an ending. Musically, it evokes a feeling of peace and enlightenment. The reconciliation of souls who caused pain in their mortal lives is shown in the second movement, “Penitence and Forgiveness”. After their repentance, they receive peace. “Peace and Glory” represents the afterlife for those who did good in their lives. They exist in a beautiful, peaceful environment. The penultimate movement, “Unredeemed,” portrays the fate of those who chose to defy truth and are doomed to an existence of anguish. Finally, the fifth movement, “Exaltation,” depicts the afterlife for the most valiant, which is an existence of continual creation and growth. 

Roy Rummler, the piece’s composer, is an author and educator in addition to his work as a composer. He is a graduate of Parowan High School and holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, as well as several other graduate degrees from various institutions. He was in attendance at the concert. 

The performance was live-streamed and can be viewed here. For more information regarding future music department performances, visit the SUU music department website

Story by: Gracie Butterfield
Photos courtesy of SUTV-9
Editor: Tessa Cheshire