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Master Chorale Trims Calendar

William Hall wants to change the ensemble's direction to become more involved in recording projects.


William Hall is shifting the emphasis of his Master Chorale toward making more recordings.

So he's dropping one of the usual three concerts this season, after opening this Sunday with Bach's B-minor Mass at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach.

"With our budget surplus last year we paid off all our debts and decided, 'Let's change direction for a bit, get into a recording and see how this works,' " Hall said in a recent phone interview from his offices at Chapman University, where he is also dean of music.

There will be a Christmas program, but it will be on a smaller scale, as part of Chapman's annual "Wassail Holiday Dinner and Concert" performances, Dec. 1-3, at the campus in Orange. $50. (714) 997-6812.

A spring concert, to be devoted to Verdi and other composers, will take place at St. Andrew's at a date to be announced.

The Sunday performance of the Bach mass, which will later be recorded either by Klavier or Summit Records, "will be the only version that goes back to heavy embellishing, using both chamber and large choirs, using both harpsichord and organ," Hall said. "Most use just organ."

To facilitate these recording projects, as well as to expand Chapman's course offerings, Hall has recently made his chorale a resident ensemble at the university.

The new William Hall Center for Choral and Vocal Studies will offer master classes, summer session programs and graduate degree programs. It will also combine the university and chorale libraries to form "the largest choral library in the western United States," Hall said.

Further expansion plans include a four-story building for the school of Music, to be named the Ken and Toni Oliphant Symphony Hall, according to Hall, in honor of the Oliphants' $3-million gift to the school. An additional $650,000 has been given by Marion Knott. The estimated cost for the expansion is more than $5 million, according to Hall. Groundbreaking is planned for June 2001.

"I'm trying to put everything together in a legacy, in a sense," the conductor said. "Looking down the road, whenever I retire from Chapman, the Master Chorale will have a home. Whatever happens after I leave, I want the chorale to go on. I've been doing this for 45 years."

In other plans, Hall will conduct his chorale and 10 other choirs with approximately 600 singers in Verdi's "Manzoni Requiem" at St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls Basilica in Rome on June 27, 2001.

The performance, which will be recorded, is part of the Chorale's tour to Rome, Florence and Venice, June 25-July 6. Cost: $2,795. Information: (714) 997-6504.

Chris Pasles can be reached at (714) 966-5602 or by e-mail at


William Hall will lead his Master Chorale in Bach's B minor Mass on Sunday, 4 p.m. St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 600 St. Andrews Drive, Newport Beach. $20 to $40. (714) 997-6504.

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