Thy Will Be Done is a 90-minute Easter oratorio for soloists, choir and orchestra composed by Lexington’s own Angela Rice. Metropolitan Opera tenor Gregory Turay, who premiered in the role of Jesus, raved about Rice’s “very singable, beautiful music,” and audiences have been packing performances every year since to rejoice in the 30 pieces about Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and impact.
A gifted singer and pianist from an early age, Rice studied piano under Robert Harris of the Juilliard School, and voice at the New England Conservatory under Sahar Hassan after graduating from the University of Louisville.
“I’ve tried to use the music to depict the emotions of the characters in the specific biblical contexts,” said Rice. “I hope that as you listen you can hear the love, surrender, obedience, despair, humility and awe – emotions that the characters experienced.”
This is the fourth annual performance of Rice’s oratorio. It is produced by Dr. Everett McCorvey, director of University of Kentucky Opera Theatre and the Nationale Chorale, and stars Metropolitan Opera tenor Gregory Turay as Jesus. The production includes an orchestra, soloists and a choir. This year’s performances include additional instruments and new orchestration from Dr. Joseph Baber.
McCorvey says, “Many churches, community choirs and professional choirs will appreciate the level of musicality, musicianship, and artistry. It is a fantastic work.”
Turay says, “The work is a wonderful worship experience for soloists, choir and audience alike. From a musical standpoint alone it could become one of the mainstays of the Easter season.”
Since the debut during the 2012 Lenten season, Rice has expanded it from a cantata of 16 musical numbers to the current oratorio of 30 pieces about Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and impact. While Rice has composed in many genres, she is perhaps best known for her vocal music, which runs the gamut from soaring opera to children’s songs.
Getting to this point in her musical career has been a long journey. While raising three children in Lexington with her husband Tom, a radiologist at Baptist Health, Rice continued her studies at workshops at the Tanglewood Music Center and under Phyllis Jenness, the founder of the Lexington Singers who also directed the voice program at the University of Kentucky until the early 1990s.
She also formed a close collaboration with composer and UK professor Joseph Baber, who helped her orchestrate Thy Will be Done. Rice has performed several times in the Schola Cantorum at the Cathedral of Christ the King, UK’s It’s a Grand Night for Singing, and in a variety of other musical events. Composing and performing haven’t been her only passions. She also has a long and distinguished history in Lexington’s arts community. She was co-founder and executive director of the Ashland School of Music, where she also taught piano, and she has been an active member of the Executive Committee of the Lexington Opera Society.
The performances are Wednesday, March 25, 7:30 pm, Cathedral of Christ The King, and Sunday, March 29, 4 pm, Tates Creek Presbyterian Church on Rapid Run Drive.
This article appears on page 11 of the March 2015 print issue of Ace.
For more Lexington, Kentucky arts, food, culture, and entertainment news, click here to subscribe to the Ace digital e-dition, emailed to your inbox every Thursday morning.