College of Visual and Performing Arts Stories

JMU and Norfolk Governor’s School for the Arts Join Forces for Rare Musical Presentation

Mahler's Resurrection Symphony

April 17, 2018 - The orchestral and choral areas in the James Madison University School of Music are partnering with the orchestral and choral areas at the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) in Norfolk, Virginia, to perform Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony, known as Resurrection Symphony. Described as a “heart-shattering work of genius” (Classic FM), Mahler’s mighty work will be brought to life by over 250 musicians in a performance on Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4 pm at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. A second performance will take place a day earlier on Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 7:30 pm at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach.

“It’s a happy marriage because we couldn’t perform this piece without them, and they couldn’t perform it without us,” says Foster Beyers, director of orchestras at JMU. “One of the main challenges is that it requires a huge number of performers both instrumentally and vocally.”

Onstage will be 153 students from JMU (76 students from the JMU Symphony Orchestra and 77 students from The Combined Madison Singers and JMU Chorale) and 102 students from the GSA (71 orchestra students and 31 choral students). “It’s an invaluable experience to combine forces and explore this amazing large-scale work together,” adds Jeff Phelps, orchestra director for the GSA.

Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, which contains five movements that will be conducted by Phelps and Beyers, was first performed in 1895. Mahler created this powerful and philosophical work out of a profound sense of grief and loss, but transcends that darkness in a magnificent summation of renewed hope. ‘This work is epic,” shares Beyers. “It’s one of those pieces that you dream of playing when you start in the orchestra, and it’s a rare opportunity for all of these performers.”

The JMU Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Foster Beyers, is the premier symphonic ensemble for the School of Music at James Madison University. The Symphony presents a number of concerts on- and off-campus each year, and has performed regularly as the invited college ensemble for the Virginia Music Educators Association. The ensemble presents a series of Youth Concerts for students from Harrisonburg/Rockingham and surrounding counties. The Symphony is one of the only college orchestras nationwide selected to participate in the Carnegie Hall (N.Y.) “LinkUp” concerts for young students.

The advanced, auditioned choral chamber ensemble at JMU, The Madison Singers (TMS) explore, prepare and present advanced choral repertoire that is expressive of the diversity of the human spirit throughout both music history and world cultures. The JMU Chorale is an auditioned and highly select choir that performs repertoire from the Renaissance to the contemporary era in both sacred and secular genres. Both TMS and the Chorale are directed by Dr. Jo-Anne van der Vat Chromy and maintain an active performance schedule on-and off-campus. TMS have performed in concerts and master classes with noted choral ensembles including Cantus, The King’s Singers, Chanticleer and Tenebrae, and performed with music star Josh Groban in 2015. Frequent performers in the JMU Showcase Concerts at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., TMS also participate in the Staunton Music Festival and Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and serve as “audible ambassadors” for JMU through concerts in local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In addition to its curricular masterwork program, the Chorale frequently collaborates on projects with the JMU Symphony Orchestra, including the JMU Pops! concert and Holidayfest.

The Governor’s School for the Arts is a center for innovation that develops excellence, nurtures creativity, inspires artistic vision and builds communities with a passion for the arts. While the orchestra is directed by Jeff Phelps, the chorus is directed by Stephen Z. Cook. For more information, visit

Tickets for the Forbes Center performance are $17-$18. For tickets, visit or call the Forbes Center Box Office at (540) 568-7000.

JMU Symphony Orchestra photos by Macson McGuigan.

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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