OSU musicians honor dean’s late wife

By Joe Price
Arts and Entertainment Reporter
The Daily O’Collegian/Big 12 Syndication

Musicians performed a requiem for Gillian Sherwood in dedication to her memory and contributions to the Oklahoma State University community.

Sherwood, late wife of Peter Sherwood, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, died on Jan. 24.

The performances on Saturday and Sunday marked the 28th annual President’s Masterworks Concert. “Ein Deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was performed and dedicated in memory of Sherwood.

The Seretean Center Concert Hall’s stage was crowded with 175 musicians from the OSU Concert Chorale, University Singers and the OSU Symphony Orchestra. The theater seating, crowded as well, held students, faculty and other OSU community members.

John Spilker, visiting professor of musicology, said Sherwood would be missed.

“Even a brief conversation with her raised one’s spirit,” Spilker said. “She exemplified great personal strength.”

Contrary to most masses for the dead, “Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) “employs themes of consolation and hope, which emphasized Sherwood’s memory.

Brahms, the composer, once said, “As regards the title, I would gladly have left out ‘German’ and substituted ‘human.'”

The use of German in place of the traditional Latin text is another contrary quality to Brahms’ requiem. Audience members were shown projections of these texts, translated into English.

John Seesholtz, a baritone soloist featured in the performance, presented an introductory lecture on the requiem.

“Brahms is very carefully using his compositional craft to paint these words; to make these texts come to life for an audience,” Seesholtz said. “You can see how, through music, and through the careful selection of these scriptural texts, Brahms wants to share a message of hope that is universal to all of us.”

Unfortunately, lighting malfunctions dampened the message of hope. Throughout the evening, the stage lights dimmed, leaving the performers in darkness. Despite this hindrance, the performers endured, without pause, to deliver the entire requiem uninterrupted.

Chelsey Miller, a chorus member and strategic communications freshman, said the malfunctions didn’t deter her.

“I was completely involved in presenting the piece to the listeners,” Miller said.

Hannah Haikin, a violinist and sociology senior, said it was her favorite concert of the year.

“We really stepped it up with the music,” she said. “It was significantly longer and harder than most.”

The evening proved to be an uplifting event in memory and dedication of Sherwood. The liturgical text (1 Corinthians 15:55) sung in the sixth movement encompassed the evening:

“Death, where is your sting? Hell, where is your victory?”